US Doctors gave 29 Percent of Opioid Prescriptions for No Reason


A recently published study notes that doctors gave no reason for prescribing opioids to up to a third of their patients.

A team of researchers from the Harvard Medical School and Rand Corp analyzed medical records from 2006 to 2015 and found out that no explanation was offered for 29% of the opioid prescription.

This comes to reinforce previous criticism by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration which declared that unnecessary prescription have contributed to the opioid crisis which caused 42,000 deaths in 2016.

The CDC guidelines stipulate that doctors should prescribe opioids sparingly, only when it is mandatory and for a very limited time.

Lead researcher Nicole Maestas and her team surveyed tens of thousands of medical records, from which more than 31,000 doctors prescribed an opioid.

In two-thirds of the cases, a pain diagnosis was mentioned. Most cases mentioned chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, back pain and others. Five percent of the prescriptions were also associated with cancer cases.

The alarming fact is that no reason was offered for the remaining 29%. Some patients suffered from multiple ailments so it surveys that had not may have lacked enough space to record all the diagnoses were removed from the study.

In cases were pain-related diagnosis was given, researchers encountered diagnoses such as high cholesterol, hypertension, opioid dependence and the vague ‘’other follow-up examination’’.

In the last 20 years opioid prescriptions have increased dramatically and the CDC recommends that people should opt for other painkillers or ice. More efforts should be spent on reducing the prescription rates. One issue that needs to be solved is the lack of a robust documentation system that would demand serious reasons for the prescription.

A second study has revealed that adults and teens who are already addicted to opioids do not receive the medication they need. Only 24% of the teens that have an opioids addiction have received a prescription for buprenorphine, naltrexone or methadone, which can help them fight the issues.


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