November 15, 2019
1 min read

Education triples the rate of properly disposed, unused opioid pills after THA, TKA

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Charles P. Hannon

DALLAS — According to a presenter at the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons Annual Meeting, education about proper disposal of opioid pills after total hip arthroplasty or total knee arthroplasty more than tripled the rate of proper disposal compared with no education about pill disposal.

“The rates of opioid disposal are unacceptably low without education but just simply providing an educational pamphlet before surgery, as well as after surgery, more than triples the rate of unused opioid pills that are disposed after surgery,” Charles P. Hannon, MD, said during his presentation. “We believe that all total joint arthroplasty patients should be educated on the importance of properly disposing of these excess [opioids] pills to prevent misuse.”

Hannon and colleagues randomized 183 patients who underwent primary THA and 380 patients who underwent primary TKA to receive no education, educational pamphlets or educational pamphlets plus text messages about proper disposal of unused opioids. Investigators cluster randomized the patients by week to avoid sharing educational materials and also were blinded to participation. At 6 weeks postoperatively, patients were surveyed to determine whether they disposed of unused opioid pills using an FDA- recommended method.
. Of these patients, 89 patients received no education; 128 patients received educational pamphlets; and 125 patients received pamphlets and text messages. Investigators noted opioids were properly disposed by 9% of patients who received no education, by 32.8% of patients who received educational pamphlets and by 38.4% of patients who received pamphlets and text messages.

Hannon said, “Interestingly, the most common[ly] used method of disposing opioid pills was flushing down the toilet.”

Unused opioid pills were kept by 82% of patients who did not receive education, by 64.1% of patients who did receive educational pamphlets and by 54.4% of patients who received both educational pamphlets and text messages. According to researchers, no differences were seen among groups with regard to daily inpatient opioid use, refill requirements and preoperative opioid use other than gender. – by Monica Jaramillo



Nahhas CR, et al. Paper 47. Presented at: American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons Annual Meeting; Nov. 7-10, 2019; Dallas.


Disclosure: Hannon reports he is a paid consultant for ExplORer Surgical.