Study Suggests Multimodal Pain Care Leads to Shorter Hospital Stays, Lower Opioid Doses After Surgery

Feb 18, 2016, 20:00 ET from American Academy of Pain Medicine

PALM SPRINGS, Calif., Feb. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pain care for patients already taking opioids can be improved by bringing together multiple non-opioid treatment modalities during hospitalization, a prospective pilot study showed.  Patients so treated were less likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 60 days, according to results reported in a scientific poster at the 32nd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine.

A chief concern of the researchers was the high hospital readmission rates historically seen in opioid-tolerant patients due to continued pain symptoms. Opioid-tolerant patients who arrive for surgeries or procedures are at heightened risk of suffering acute pain and in particular need of an alternative treatment plan, said the study's lead author, David A. Edwards, MD, PhD, clinical chief of Pain at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

"The transition from in-hospital to out-of-hospital is where the problem lies," Dr. Edwards said. "Clinicians need to know what they can offer patients other than opioids to treat pain and suffering, especially when the patients arrive on high-dose opioids already."

Results showed that readmission rate, length of stay and opioid dose dropped as the use of multimodal medical analgesia grew. The return rate was 28 percent for the 18 opioid-tolerant patients who received Pathway care compared with 40 percent for usual care, representing a 30 percent effect size. No adverse events or change in patient satisfaction were reported.

The next step is to complete a randomized controlled trial at the study's three medical centers: Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital.  The ultimate aim is to change the standard of care for treatment of this group of patients. This would include practitioner education in multimodal pain management strategies to prevent opioid escalation and to help patients taper off of high-risk medications after surgery.

Said Dr. Edwards, "The day has come and gone where solely using opioids to manage pain in noncancer patients is considered appropriate care." Click for Complete Story.

Information is available on the Academy's website at


SOURCE American Academy of Pain Medicine