Original Report| Volume 18, ISSUE 10, P1270-1276, October 2017

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Opioid Analgesics Administered for Pain in the Inpatient Pediatric Setting


      • Few data are available on the use of opioids in the inpatient pediatric setting.
      • These data are important to improve clinical trial methodology for studying opioids in children.
      • Insights may be gleaned regarding potential sources of opioid misuse and abuse.
      • Most of the time opioids are prescribed for short-term acute pain problems.
      • Long-term use is rare, mostly seen in oncology and critical care settings.


      This study aimed to describe utilization of opioid medications among infants, children, and adolescents on the inpatient setting. These data are needed to guide clinical trials and improve research methodologies, as well as to inform more about possible sources of opioid misuse in the United States. A retrospective chart review was conducted covering a span of 1 year, with a special focus on the prescription of opioids for long-term treatment of chronic pain. Opioid medications were prescribed for <5 days in most (75%) patients. Among those who were prescribed opioids for >14 days, the focus was often for reasons other than pain. These data indicate that models of chronic pain that may be utilized in clinical trials of longer-term opioid usage in pediatrics are exceedingly limited. In addition, the patterns of utilization indicate that opioid administration among pediatric inpatients is not a likely contributory factor to concerns about opioid misuse in the United States.


      This article presents data on the administration of opioids in a major children's hospital, with a special eye toward usage beyond treatment for short-term acute pain. These data are important to better inform discussions of research strategies for chronic pain, as well as concerns for misuse in the pediatric population.

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