Variability in opioid pain medication prescribing for adolescent trauma patients in a sample of US pediatric trauma centers

Michael J. Mello, Janette Baird, Julie R. Bromberg, Anthony Spirito, Mark R. Zonfrillo, Lois K. Lee, Emily R. Christison-Lagay, Stephanie M. Ruest, Charles W. Pruitt, Karla A. Lawson, Andrew W. Kiragu, Isam Nasr, Jeremy T. Aidlen, Beth E. Ebel, R. T. Todd Maxson, Kelli Scott, Sara J. Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objectives The primary objective of this study was to examine opioid prescription frequency and identify differences across a national cohort of pediatric trauma centers in rates of prescribing opioids to injured adolescents at discharge. Methods This was a retrospective observational study using electronic health records of injured adolescents (12-17 years) admitted to one of 10 pediatric trauma centers. Results Of the 1345 electronic health records abstracted, 720 (53.5%, 95% CI 50.8 to 56.2) patients received opioid prescriptions at discharge with variability across sites (28.6%-72%). There was no association between patient factors and frequency of prescribing opioids. Center's trauma volume was significantly positively correlated with a higher rate of opioid prescribing at discharge (r=0.92, p=0.001). There was no significant difference between the frequency of opioid prescriptions at discharge among alcohol and other drugs (AOD)-positive patients (53.8%) compared with AOD-negative patients (53.5%). Conclusions Across a sample of 10 pediatric trauma centers, just over half of adolescent trauma patients received an opioid prescription at discharge. Prescribing rates were similar for adolescent patients screening positive for AOD use and those screening negative. The only factor associated with a higher frequency of prescribing was trauma center volume. Consensus and dissemination of outpatient pain management best practices for adolescent trauma patients is warranted. Level of evidence III-prognostic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere000894
JournalTrauma Surgery and Acute Care Open
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This research is supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01AA025914.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.


  • Analgesics, opioid
  • Pediatrics

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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