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discharge teaching, nonmedical opioid use, patient education, prescription opioids



  1. Costello, Margaret PhD, RN


Overview: Patients expect and deserve adequate postoperative pain relief. Opioid analgesics are widely used and effective in controlling postoperative pain, but their use poses risks that many patients don't understand and that all too often result in adverse outcomes. Inappropriate and often dangerous use of prescription medication has increased sharply in the past two decades in the United States. Patients and caregivers must have an adequate understanding of safe use, storage, and disposal of opioids to prevent adverse drug events in patients and others. Nurses play a key role in providing this patient education. This article provides a case study that highlights the risks and important aspects of opioid medication use in the postoperative patient.