Narcotics Policy

Doctor holding in hand Pain Management
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After your upcoming surgery, you may receive a narcotic pain medication. Taking narcotics such as opioids poses a risk of addiction and dependency along with fatal outcomes if not used as prescribed. It is important to understand that these drugs can be very helpful, but have the potential for misuse and are therefore closely controlled by local, state and federal governments. Our policy is in place to help you use these medications appropriately and keep you safe.

You can only receive a certain quantity of narcotics at a time. You should use narcotics for acute, postoperative pain only, not long-term pain management.

  • The North Carolina STOP Act (effective Jan 2018) limits the amount of narcotics a provider can prescribe postoperatively.
  • UNC Healthcare also regulates our team on the quantity of narcotics we can prescribe.

If warranted, you can only obtain a narcotic medication refill during office hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Please plan accordingly.

  • You cannot receive a refill of narcotic pain medications after-hours or on the weekend from the provider-on-call.
  • Your refill may take up to forty-eight (48) hours to fill.
  • We will not provide refills for lost or stolen medications under any circumstance.
  • Our providers will not refill narcotic medications for any longer than 14 days total after surgery (except for highly extenuating circumstances).
Chronic pain

Our providers do not treat chronic pain. If you receive care from an outpatient pain clinic or if you receive narcotics regularly from another provider, please make sure they are aware you are having surgery. As the patient, it is your responsibility to find out their policy for acute pain control in the postoperative setting and how that may affect your pain contract.