Study Suggests Doctors Enable Opioid Use Among Medicare Patients

A recent study by Dr. Anupam B. Jena, of Harvard Medical, Dr. Dana Goldman of the University of Southern California, and Dr. Pinar Karaca-Mandic of the University of Minnesota, analyzed 623,957 cases where “opioid naive” Medicare beneficiaries received narcotics for the first time during a hospital visit. Of those patients, 92,882 received a second prescription within seven days; 32,731 received another prescription after 90 days. According to Dr. Jena, those numbers, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), suggest that some doctors sustain patients’ dependence on opioids after a first-time treatment. “There’s really no understanding [of opioid prescribing practices] aside from what you read about ‘pill-mill’ doctors,” Dr. Jena said. Though these doctors receive more media attention, Dr. Jena explained, they account for a minority of prescriptions — patients are more likely to receive opioids during emergency room visits. A hospital’s’ “cultural practices”— anything from doctors’ stress levels to the way they measure pain— can influence its prescribing practices. For that reason, Dr. Jena said, states should monitor hospitals’ prescription rates, and penalize those where over-prescribing seems to be a problem.

Source/more: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

David Wingate is an elder law attorney at the Elder Law Office of David Wingate, LLC. The elder law office services clients with powers of attorneys, living wills, Wills, Trusts, Medicaid and asset protection. The Elder Law office has locations in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland.

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