Opioid consumption in hospitals of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region: A four-year retrospective study

Roberto Bortolussi, Simon Spazzapan, Davide Lombardi, Anna Maria Colussi, Andrea Veronesi, Mira Matovic, Marcello De Cicco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Aims and background: Opioid consumption for analgesic purposes is considered an important indicator of the quality of cancer pain treatment. Italy's consumption ranks among the lowest in economically developed countries. A lack of systematic education of health care professionals regarding pain control and a sort of "opiophobia" induced by measures designed to control the improper use of drugs have been indicated as possible reasons for this trend. The aim of this study was firstly to evaluate the level of opioid consumption at inpatient institutions (where opioid prescription rules have never been subjected to any restriction) and secondly to survey the attitude of the physicians working in general hospitals and specialized oncology institutions (oncology centers and hospices) towards opioid administration. Methods: The authors performed a four-year survey (1996-1999) on the consumption of major opioids (morphine, meperidine, buprenorphine, transdermal fentanyl) among all the inpatient institutions (six regional/provincial hospitals, eleven district hospitals, the Aviano Oncology Institute and two hospices) of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region in North-Eastern Italy. To facilitate data interpretation, all the opioids were converted to milligrams equivalent of oral morphine (mg OME). Data on the number of days of hospitalization of oncological patients in every institution were also collected. Results: The overall consumption of opioids was 9,299,177 mg OME (83.3%) and 1,845,060 mg OME (16.7%) in general hospitals and specialized oncology institutions, respectively. Overall, the number of days of hospitalization of oncological. patients was 1,121,142 (87%) and 167,665 (13%) in general hospitals and specialized oncology institutions, respectively. The ratio between the total dosage of mg OME administered and the total number of hospitalization days in general hospitals and specialized oncology institutions was 8.29 mg OME/day and 11 mg OME/day, respectively. Conclusions: Our data show that in specialized oncology institutions, opioid consumption was proportionally higher than in general hospitals. This result indicates the attitude of the physicians of these institutions towards opioid administration, probably due to the training received on cancer pain treatment, and emphasizes the need to educate all health care workers involved in the management of cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-102
Number of pages7
JournalTumori
Volume90
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004

Keywords

  • Cancer pain treatment
  • Opioid consumption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research

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    Bortolussi, R., Spazzapan, S., Lombardi, D., Colussi, A. M., Veronesi, A., Matovic, M., & De Cicco, M. (2004). Opioid consumption in hospitals of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region: A four-year retrospective study. Tumori, 90(1), 96-102.