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Surgical endoscopy


BACKGROUND: Obesity-related chronic pain can increase the risk of narcotic abuse in bariatric surgery patients. However, assessment of overdose risk has not been evaluated to date.

METHODS: A NARxCHECK® overdose score ("Narx score") was obtained preoperatively on all patients undergoing bariatric surgery (n = 306) between 2018 and 2020 at a single-center academic bariatric surgery program. The 3-digit score ranges from 000 to 999 and is based on patient risk factors found within the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. A Narx score ≥ 200 indicates tenfold increased risk of narcotic overdose. Patient characteristics, comorbidities, and emergency room (ER) visits were compared between patients in the upper (≥ 200) and lower (000) terciles of Narx scores. Morphine milligram equivalent (MME) prescribed at discharge and refills was also evaluated.

RESULTS: Patients in the upper tercile represented 32% (n = 99) of the study population, and compared to the lower tercile (n = 101, 33%), were more likely to have depression (63.6% vs 38.6%, p = 0.0004), anxiety (47.5% vs 30.7%, p = 0.0150), and bipolar disorder (6.1% vs 0.0%, p = 0.0120). Median MME prescribed at discharge was the same between both groups (75); however, high-risk patients were more likely to be prescribed more than 10 tablets of a secondary opioid (83.3% vs 0.0%, p = 0.0111), which was prescribed by another provider in 67% of cases. ER visits among patients who did not have a complication or require a readmission was also higher among high-risk patients (7.8% vs 0.0%, p = 0.0043). There were no deaths or incidents of mental health-related ER visits in either group.

CONCLUSION: Patients with a Narx score ≥ 200 were more likely to have mental health disorders and have potentially avoidable ER visits in the setting of standardized opioid prescribing practices. Narx scores can help reduce ER visits by identifying at-risk patients who may benefit from additional clinic or telehealth follow-up.

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ePub ahead of print



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