Doctors more likely to prescribe opioids may help fuel epidemic of abuse -

Doctors more likely to prescribe opioids may help fuel epidemic of abuse

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 15, 2017 — Chances are you’ll be extra prone to wind up a long-term consumer of opioid painkillers in case you’re handled by a health care provider who regularly prescribes these medicine, a brand new examine studies.

Emergency room sufferers are at better threat for long-term opioid use even after a single prescription from an ER physician who usually prescribes the painkillers, researchers discovered.

“If a affected person occurred to see a excessive opioid-prescribing physician, their likelihood of getting an opioid is over thrice greater,” stated examine creator Dr. Michael Barnett. He is an assistant professor of well being coverage and administration on the Harvard T. H. Chan Faculty of Public Well being in Boston.

“Sufferers who’re handled by frequent prescribers are also 30 p.c extra prone to develop long-term use over the following yr,” Barnett continued.

One out of each 48 individuals newly prescribed an opioid will change into a long-term consumer, based mostly on the researchers’ evaluation.

The outcomes present there’s an actual want for higher pointers relating to using opioid painkillers comparable to morphine, oxycodone (OxyContin), codeine and fentanyl, Barnett stated.

“We do not actually have metrics we are able to agree upon that quantify applicable versus inappropriate prescribing,” Barnett stated.

“In the long run, medical doctors are simply utilizing their very own judgment and making issues up as they go alongside when it comes to how and when to prescribe opioid drugs,” he stated.

Drug overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999. Greater than six out of 10 overdose deaths contain opioid medicine, based on the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. Ninety-one individuals die on daily basis in America from prescription opioids or heroin, the company says.

Prescriptions for opioids have almost quadrupled since 1999 regardless that there’s been no general change in People’ reported ache ranges, based on the CDC.

For the examine, Barnett and his colleagues reviewed Medicare emergency room visits. This offered a pure experimental setting, Barnett stated. Sufferers do not select the ER physician who treats them, and are available in with all kinds of well being issues.

The researchers reviewed medical information for greater than 375,000 Medicare beneficiaries handled by greater than 14,000 ER medical doctors between 2008 and 2011. The medical doctors had been sorted based mostly on how typically sufferers left the hospital with an opioid prescription.

The examine discovered a variety of variation between medical doctors. The highest quarter gave opioids to 24 p.c of sufferers, in contrast with simply 7 p.c by medical doctors on the low finish of the spectrum.

Observe-up analysis confirmed that folks handled by probably the most frequent prescribers had been 30 p.c extra prone to change into long-term opioid customers. Lengthy-term utilization was outlined as receiving not less than six months’ value of capsules through the yr following the preliminary ER go to.

The examine wasn’t supposed to single out ER medical doctors as a supply of the opioid epidemic, Barnett stated, noting that the majority opioid prescriptions are written by major care physicians.

However many sufferers select ER therapy as a result of they’re in ache, stated Dr. Mark Rosenberg. He is chairman of emergency drugs for St. Joseph’s Healthcare System, in Paterson, N.J.

“That could be a huge purpose why individuals come, and actually it’s a differentiator as to why individuals come to the emergency division somewhat than major care,” Rosenberg stated.

Acknowledging this, ER medical doctors have taken steps to restrict the variety of opioid capsules they prescribe to sufferers. As a lot as a 9 p.c discount in prescriptions has occurred throughout emergency drugs, Rosenberg stated.

Nonetheless, any opioid prescription handed out by an ER doc can put a affected person on the trail to long-term use as soon as one other doctor takes over their care, Rosenberg continued.

Observe-up physicians are inclined to proceed no matter was first prescribed within the ER, Rosenberg stated, whether or not it was oxycodone or ibuprofen.

“Any individual comes into the emergency division with a fractured wrist,” Rosenberg stated for instance. “I am going to cut back the fracture, I am going to put them in a splint, I am going to refer them to orthopedics, and I am going to give them 10 capsules to carry them over. The orthopedist then offers them 90 capsules.”

Dr. Richard Rosenthal, medical director of the Mount Sinai Behavioral Well being System in New York Metropolis, agreed that “the actual drawback is with the handoff.”

“Clearly the ER shouldn’t be the one supply of the issue,” Rosenthal stated. “The info recommend that extra scrutiny and objective of considering wants to enter the choice course of of constant opioid therapy.”

One step would possibly contain monitoring prescribing patterns and sharing them with medical doctors, to see how they examine with their colleagues, Barnett stated.

“While you give physicians details about how they do one thing in comparison with their friends, it typically can convey medical doctors nearer towards a uniform greatest apply,” he stated.

The examine was printed Feb. 15 within the New England Journal of Medication.

Extra data

For extra concerning the opioid epidemic, go to the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

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