By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – We have a major public health problem in this country and it has to do with the overuse of opioid medications.
The use of opioid painkillers – and overdose-related deaths connected to these drugs – has clearly been on the rise in the United States.
A new study in the Journal of Hospital Medicine looked at over 1 million hospital admissions – at 286 hospitals – and found that over half (51%) of all nonsurgical patients received opioids during their stay. Forty-three percent of the patients receiving opioids were exposed to multiple opioids. Experts say this number is dramatically high.
Our region prescribed less often: the west having the highest prescribing rate and the northeast the lowest.
Patients receiving opioids at hospitals that prescribe more frequently were at higher risk for severe opioid-related problems than hospitals with lower prescribing rates.
Clearly this is a problem that needs to be addressed.