America’s struggle with the growing opioid epidemic has swept national headlines, with some reports estimating that 91 people die every day in the United States from overuse of opioids. Even more astounding, is the fact that the U.S. makes up only 4.6 percent of the world’s population, but consumes 80 percent of its opioids. And the Surgeon General’s recent report highlighted that opioid analgesic pain relievers are now the most prescribed class of medications in the U.S., with more than 289 million prescriptions written each year.
As a practicing orthopedic surgeon, these numbers are astonishing and concerning. As medical professionals, it is our job to take care of our patients and give them the best care and advice as possible. Prescribing opioids after surgery for many weeks or months has been the primary practice over the last several years, but recently there has been an outcry for change.