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One in 10 Continue Opioid Use Two Years After ICU Admission

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 17, 2021 -- Mean opioid consumption is increased 24 months after an episode of critical care, according to a study published online Jan. 28 in Critical Care Medicine.

Erik von Oelreich, M.D., from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues examined chronic opioid use after critical care. The analysis included 204,402 adults surviving the first two quarters after an intensive care unit (ICU) admission (2010 to 2018).

The researchers identified 22,138 adults who developed chronic opioid use following critical care. There was a peak in mean opioid consumption in the quarter after admission followed by a continuous decline, but without return to baseline during 24 months of follow-up. Old age, female sex, presence of comorbidities, preadmission opioid use, and ICU length of stay more than two days were associated with chronic opioid use. Among chronic opioid users, the risk for death remained higher six to 18 months after admission (hazard ratio, 1.7). Similar findings were seen among patients not using opioids prior to admission.

"Given the high number of ICU entries and risk of excess mortality for chronic users, preventing opioid misuse is important when improving long-term outcomes after critical care," the authors write.

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