Current Issue - Opioid Guidelines Special Issue - Vol 20 Issue 2S


  1. 2017;20;S135-S145Repeated Quantitative Urine Toxicology Analysis May Improve Chronic Pain Patient Compliance with Opioid Therapy
    Observational Study
    Nebojsa Nick Knezevic, MD, PhD, Omar M. Khan, MD, Afsaneh Beiranvand, MD, and Kenneth D. Candido, MD.

BACKGROUND: Even though serious efforts have been undertaken by different medical societies to reduce opioid use for treating chronic benign pain, many Americans continue to seek pain relief through opioid consumption. Assuring compliance of these patients may be a difficult aspect of proper management even with regular behavioral monitoring.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to accurately assess the compliance of chronic opioid-consuming patients in an outpatient setting and evaluate if utilizing repeated urine drug testing (UDT) could improve compliance.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data.

SETTING: Outpatient pain management clinic.

METHODS: After Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, a retrospective analysis of data for 500 patients was conducted. We included patients who were aged 18 years and older who were treated with opioid analgesic medication for chronic pain. Patients were asked to provide supervised urine toxicology specimens during their regular clinic visits, and were asked to do so without prior notification. The specimens were sent to an external laboratory for quantitative testing using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.

RESULTS: Three hundred and eighty-six (77.2%) patients were compliant with prescribed medications and did not use any illicit drugs or undeclared medications. Forty-one (8.2%) patients tested positive for opioid medication(s) that were not prescribed in our clinic; 8 (1.6%) of the patients were positive for medication that was not prescribed by any physician and was not present in the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program; 5 (1%) patients tested negative for prescribed opioids; and 60 (12%) patients were positive for illicit drugs (8.6% marijuana, 3.2% cocaine, 0.2% heroin). Repeated UDTs following education and disclosure, showed 49 of the 77 patients (63.6%) had improved compliance.

LIMITATIONS: This was a single-site study and we normalized concentrations of opioids in urine with creatinine levels while specific gravity normalization was not used.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results showed that repeated UDT can improve compliance of patients on opioid medications and can improve overall pain management. We believe UDT testing should be used as an important adjunctive tool to help guide clinical decision-making regarding opioid therapy, potentially increasing future quality of care.

Key words: Urine toxicology analysis, chronic pain, opioids, compliance, pain management, urine drug testing, urine drug screening