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NBME Answers

free120/Block 3/Question#31

After being severely beaten and sustaining a ...

Reassure the patient that her chance of becoming addicted to narcotics is minuscule

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Narcotic use for acutely painful conditions is both reasonable and important. Short-term use (immediately post-surgical) does not lead to long-term dependence (or so people have thought…). And yes, drugs addicts should also receive narcotics to control pain.

drdoom  prefer “patients with hx of substance abuse” over more conveniently typed but less redemptive “drug addict” +3  
sugaplum  I don't see why switching her to oral pain meds when she is ready would be incorrect. Clearly she is worried about being on the pain meds, I feel making a proclamation that she has a low risk of addiction would be profiling just because she doesn't have a history. The opioid epidemic also affects people who didn't have a previous history of drug abuse. Just a thought, not trying to push any buttons. Maybe I am thinking to hard about this, but I don't see the clear A vs B line for this question. +7  
nbme4unme  @sugaplum I thought the exact same thing as you and chose the acetaminophen answer accordingly. I maintain that I am correct, my score be damned! +3  
sushizuka  I had a similar question on UW and the explanation stated that the correct answer choice was the only one that addressed the patient's concern and answered her question. The rest were just alternative treatments, so they were incorrect. But I too answered with oral pain meds. +1  
angelaq11  couldn't agree more with you all. I chose acetaminophen because opioid abuse is NO joke. The crisis is still going strong because of answers like this... +  
houseppary  I ruled out oral acetaminophen because they described in great detail the severity of her injuries, and indicated that she wasn't even fully conscious/aware when she asked this question about opioids. Rather than expose her to more pain, and possibly worsen her long-term pain prognosis, by switching to acetaminophen too early, in this case it makes sense to keep her comfortable because she's very seriously injured and not even fully lucid. It's kind to reassure her in this case. +  

36 hour surgery:

  • perforated bowel
  • multiple facial reconstruction
  • ORIF of left femur

...oral acetaminophen is not gonna cut it after major surgery. Also, our opioid crisis is mainly due to overprescription/misuse in chronic pain patients.