Opioid Prescription Following Wrist and Ankle Fracture Fixation in Scotland—Tradition Prevails

William T. Gardner (Lead / Corresponding author), David R. W. Macdonald, Matthew J. Kennedy, Alastair C. Faulkner, Joshua R. McIntyre, Patrice Forget, Stuart A. Aitken, Iain M. Stevenson,

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    1 Citation (Scopus)
    79 Downloads (Pure)


    The American ‘opioid crisis’ is rapidly spreading internationally. Perioperative opioid use increases the risk of long-term opioid use. We review opioid use following wrist and ankle fracture fixation across Scotland, establishing prescribing patterns and associations with patient, injury, or perioperative factors. Six Scottish orthopedic units contributed. A total of 598 patients were included. Patient demographics were similar across all sites. There was variation in anesthetic practice, length of stay, and AO fracture type (p < 0.01). For wrist fractures, 85.6% of patients received a discharge opioid prescription; 5.0% contained a strong opioid. There was no significant variation across the six units in prescribing practice. For ankle fractures, 82.7% of patients received a discharge opioid prescription; 17% contained a strong opioid. Dundee and Edinburgh used more strong opioids; Inverness and Paisley gave the least opioids overall (p < 0.01). Younger patient age, location, and length of stay were independent predictors of increased prescription on binary regression. Despite variability in perioperative practices, discharge opioid analgesic prescription remains overwhelmingly consistent. We believe that the biggest influence lies with the prescriber-institutional ‘standard practice’. Education of these prescribing clinicians regarding the risk profile of opioids is key to reducing their use following surgery, thus lowering long-term opioid dependence.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number468
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2022


    • Analgesia
    • Ankle
    • Opioid
    • Trauma
    • Wrist

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Medicine


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