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NewsCAP: Patients surviving an opioid overdose are often prescribed opioids afterward—and some overdose again

AJN The American Journal of Nursing: April 2016 - Volume 116 - Issue 4 - p 16
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000482130.28564.7d
In the News

Patients surviving an opioid overdose are often prescribed opioids afterward—and some overdose again. A recent retrospective cohort study followed 2,848 commercially insured patients ages 18 to 64 years for a median period of 299 days after a nonfatal overdose of opioids prescribed to treat chronic noncancer pain. The risk of subsequent overdose increased as dosages increased. Furthermore, of the patients whose primary prescribers were identified for the periods before and after the index overdose, 61% were prescribed opioids by the same primary prescriber after the overdose as before. Of patients continuing opioid use after overdosage (91%), 7% had another overdose. These startling discoveries suggest that prescribers might not know when their patients suffer a nonfatal overdose, and there is currently no systematic way to notify providers of overdoses. The study authors, reporting in the January 5 Annals of Internal Medicine, recommend more direct communication between hospitals and opioid prescribers and urge greater efforts to recognize risk factors for opioid misuse or prescriber error.

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