Clinician opioid prescribing practices and patient utilization of prescribed opioids in pediatrics


  • Jeannie S. Huang, MD, MPH
  • Cynthia L. Kuelbs, MD



opioids, children, adolescents, prescriptions, pain


Objective: Little is known regarding clinician prescribing of opioid medications and of patient use of prescribed opioid medications in pediatrics. The authors sought to learn more about pediatric clinician opioid prescribing practices and patient utilization and disposal of prescribed opioids.

Design: Cross-sectional, observational study.

Setting: Tertiary care pediatric healthcare center.

Participants: Pediatric clinicians who prescribe opioid medications and parents of children prescribed an opioid medication.

Main Outcome Measures: Clinicians were surveyed about opioid prescribing practices for acute pain management in children, and parents were asked about utilization and disposal of prescribed opioids.

Results: Most clinician respondents (64 percent) reported prescribing opioid medications to manage acute pain. The typical length of opioid prescriptions was limited to 7 days (93 percent). Parents reported a high prevalence of leftover opioid medications (86 percent). Most (59 percent) did not dispose of the remaining medication.

Conclusions: Targets for intervention to reduce unnecessary opioid exposure in youth are identified.

Author Biographies

Jeannie S. Huang, MD, MPH

Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of California San Diego, San Diego, California; Director, Clinical Medical Education, Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego, California

Cynthia L. Kuelbs, MD

Professor, Department of Pediatrics,University of California San Diego, San Diego, California; Chief Medical Information Officer, Department of Biomedical Informatics, Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego, California


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How to Cite

Huang, MD, MPH, J. S., and C. L. Kuelbs, MD. “Clinician Opioid Prescribing Practices and Patient Utilization of Prescribed Opioids in Pediatrics”. Journal of Opioid Management, vol. 14, no. 5, Sept. 2018, pp. 309-16, doi:10.5055/jom.2018.0463.



Brief Communication