OBJECTIVES: To determine whether the prevalence of opioid use among patients requiring elective same-day admission (SDA) surgery is greater than the 2.5% prevalence found in the general population. Secondary objectives were to assess compliance with expert recommendations on acute pain management in opioid-tolerant patients and to examine clinical outcomes.METHODS: A retrospective review of 812 systematically sampled adult SDA surgical cases between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009 was conducted.RESULTS: Among 798 eligible patients, 148 (18.5% [95% CI 15.9% to 21.2%]) were prescribed opioids, with 4.4% prescribed long-acting opioids (95% CI 3.0% to 5.8%). Use of opioids was most prevalent among orthopedic and neurosurgery patients. Among the 35 patients on long-acting opioids who had a high likelihood of being tolerant, anesthesiologists correctly identified 33, but only 13 (37%) took their usual opioid preoperatively while 22 (63%) had opioids continued postoperatively. Acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and pregabalin were ordered preoperatively in 18 (51%), 15 (43%) and 18 (51%) cases, respectively, while ketamine was used in 15 (43%) patients intraoperatively. Acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and pregabalin were ordered postoperatively in 31 (89%), 15 (43%) and 17 (49%) of the cases, respectively. No differences in length of stay, readmissions and emergency room visits were found between opioid-tolerant and opioid-naïve patients.CONCLUSION: Opioid use is more common in SDA surgical patients than in the general population and is most prevalent within orthopedic and neurosurgery patients. Uptake of expert opinion on the management of acute pain in the opioid tolerant patient population is lacking.