Some Docs May Help Fuel Opioid Abuse Epidemic

Friday, February 17, 2017 5:20:02 PM

By Dennis Thompson, tucson.com

Originally posted February 15, 2017


You may be more likely to wind up a long-term user of opioid painkillers if you're treated by a doctor who frequently prescribes those drugs, a new study reports.

Emergency room patients are at greater risk for long-term opioid use even after a single prescription from an ER doctor who regularly prescribes the painkillers, researchers found.

"If a patient happened to see a high opioid-prescribing doctor, their chance of getting an opioid is over three times higher," said study author Dr. Michael Barnett. He's an assistant professor of health policy and management at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

"Patients who are treated by frequent prescribers also are 30 percent more likely to develop long-term use over the next year," Barnett continued.

One out of every 48 people newly prescribed an opioid will become a long-term user, based on the researchers' analysis.

The results show there's a real need for better guidelines regarding the use of opioid painkillers such as morphine, oxycodone (OxyContin), codeine and fentanyl, Barnett said.

"We don't really have metrics we can agree upon that quantify appropriate versus inappropriate prescribing," Barnett said.

Read full story 

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