Opioid-induced respiratory depression increases hospital costs and length of stay in patients recovering on the general care floor

Ashish K. Khanna, Leif Saager, Sergio D. Bergese, Carla R. Jungquist, Hiroshi Morimatsu, Shoichi Uezono, Lian Kah Ti, Roy Soto, Wei Jiang, Wolfgang Buhre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Opioid-induced respiratory depression is common on the general care floor. However, the clinical and economic burden of respiratory depression is not well-described. The PRediction of Opioid-induced respiratory Depression In patients monitored by capnoGraphY (PRODIGY) trial created a prediction tool to identify patients at risk of respiratory depression. The purpose of this retrospective sub-analysis was to examine healthcare utilization and hospital cost associated with respiratory depression. Methods: One thousand three hundred thirty-five patients (N = 769 United States patients) enrolled in the PRODIGY trial received parenteral opioids and underwent continuous capnography and pulse oximetry monitoring. Cost data was retrospectively collected for 420 United States patients. Differences in healthcare utilization and costs between patients with and without ≥1 respiratory depression episode were determined. The impact of respiratory depression on hospital cost per patient was evaluated using a propensity weighted generalized linear model. Results: Patients with ≥1 respiratory depression episode had a longer length of stay (6.4 ± 7.8 days vs 5.0 ± 4.3 days, p = 0.009) and higher hospital cost ($21,892 ± $11,540 vs $18,206 ± $10,864, p = 0.002) compared to patients without respiratory depression. Patients at high risk for respiratory depression, determined using the PRODIGY risk prediction tool, who had ≥1 respiratory depression episode had higher hospital costs compared to high risk patients without respiratory depression ($21,948 ± $9128 vs $18,474 ± $9767, p = 0.0495). Propensity weighted analysis identified 17% higher costs for patients with ≥1 respiratory depression episode (p = 0.007). Length of stay significantly increased total cost, with cost increasing exponentially for patients with ≥1 respiratory depression episode as length of stay increased. Conclusions: Respiratory depression on the general care floor is associated with a significantly longer length of stay and increased hospital costs. Early identification of patients at risk for respiratory depression, along with early proactive intervention, may reduce the incidence of respiratory depression and its associated clinical and economic burden. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02811302.

Original languageEnglish
Article number88
JournalBMC Anesthesiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Costs
  • Detection
  • Healthcare utilization
  • Monitoring
  • Opioids
  • Patient safety
  • Post-operative
  • Respiratory depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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