Background: More than half of opioid misusers last obtained opioids from a friend or relative, a problematic reflection of the commonly known opioid reservoir maintained by variable prescription rates and, notably, excessive postoperative prescription. We examined the postoperative opioid-prescribing approaches among podiatric physicians.
Methods: We administered a scenario-based, anonymous, online questionnaire via an online survey platform. The questionnaire consisted of five patient–foot surgery scenarios aimed at discerning opioid-prescribing approaches. Respondents were asked how many opioid “pills” (dosage units) that they would prescribe at the time of surgery. We divided respondents into two opioid-prescribing approach groups: one-size-fits-all (prescribed the same dosage units regardless of the scenario) and patient-centric and procedure-focused (prescribed varied amounts of opioid dosage units based on the patient’s opioid history and the procedure provided in each scenario). We used the Mann-Whitney U test to determine the difference between the opioid dosage units prescribed at the time of surgery by the two groups.
Results: Approximately half of the respondents used a one-size-fits-all postoperative opioid-prescribing approach. Podiatric physicians who used a patient-centric and procedure-focused approach reported prescribing significantly fewer opioid dosage units in scenarios 1 (partial toe amputation; –9.1; P = .0087) and 2 (incision and drainage with partial fifth-ray resection; –12.3; P = .0024), which represented minor procedures with opioid-naive patients.
Conclusions: Podiatric physicians who used a one-size-fits-all opioid-prescribing approach prescribed more postoperative opioid dosage units regardless of the scenario. Given that the patient population requiring foot surgery is diverse and may have multiple comorbidities, the management of postoperative pain, likewise, should be diverse and nuanced. The patient-centric and procedure-focused approach is suited to limit excess prescribing while defending the physician-patient relationship.