Who Hurts More? A Multicenter Prospective Study of In-Hospital Opioid Use in Pediatric Trauma Patients in the Midwest

Carlos A. Pelaez, Jonathan W. Davis, Sarah K. Spilman, Hope M. Guzzo, Kristel M. Wetjen, Kimberly A. Randell, Henry W. Ortega, Graeme J. Pitcher, Justin Kenardy, Marizen R. Ramirez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Despite increased national attention on misuse of prescription and nonprescription opioids for adolescents and children, little is known about opioid use in a pediatric population during hospitalization for injury. The purpose of this investigation is to describe opioid administration and magnitude of opioid exposure in the first 48 hours of hospitalization in a pediatric trauma population. Study design: This is a secondary analysis of data collected for a randomized, prospective intervention study at 4 Midwestern children's trauma centers. Participants included children ages 10 to 17 years old, admitted to the hospital for unintentional injury. Descriptive statistics and multivariable modeling were used to characterize demographic factors and measure prevalence and magnitude of opioid use within the first 48 hours of hospitalization. Results: Among 299 participants, 82% received at least 1 opioid administration. Children had increased odds of receiving an opioid (odds ratio [OR] 4.25; 95% CI 2.16 to 8.35) for every log increase of Injury Severity Scores (ISS), yet the majority of children with minor injury (61%) also received an opioid. Children with fractures and older children had higher odds of receiving an opioid. Amount of opioid, expressed as morphine milligrams equivalent (MME), significantly increased with child age, ISS, and fracture. Conclusions: Most pediatric trauma patients received an opioid in the first 48 hours of hospitalization, although prevalence and exposure varied by age, injury, and acuity. Aggressive pain management can be appropriate for injured pediatric patients; however, study results indicate areas for improvement, specifically for children with minor injuries and those receiving excessive opioid amounts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)404-414
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support: This work was supported by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (CER-1306-02918).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American College of Surgeons


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