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Seniors Often Discharged from Hospitals with Lethal Amount of Prescription
Whenever a patient is discharged from the hospital after a surgery or any major medical intervention, he
or she is prescribed an opioid painkiller. And this prescription often becomes a gateway to a long-term
opioid use, gradually leading to dependence.
In fact, the problem is more prevalent than one can anticipate, revealed a recent study published in the
JAMA Internal Medicine in June 2016. Prescriptions are used and renewed more frequently by these older
patients, the study found.
abuse is a serious
ailment plaguing the
United States and
drug overdoses have
been claiming more
According to the
Centers for Disease
Prevention (CDC), in
2013 alone, close to
44,000 people died of
including 16,000 from
such as hydrocodone
and morphine. Opioid
from 1999 to 2013.
Opioid dependence grew after hospitalization
When the researchers analyzed a random population of more than 623,000 Medicare beneficiaries
hospitalized in 2011 without any prescription claims for opioids before hospitalization, they found that a
significant number of prescription was filled for opioid by patients who had already been discharged. The
patients who did not have a single prescription claim for opioids for at least six months before being
admitted were now filling prescriptions for opioids within a week after the discharge.
The researchers found that at least 14.9 percent hospitalized beneficiaries filled a prescription for opioid
within one week. Among those who filled the first prescription, 42.5 percent had made another pharmacy
claim for opioids after 90 days. This is a clear indication that patients grew dependent after the opioid use
prescribed by the hospital.
Alternative approaches to address pain
To avoid such a predicament, the hospitals should have turned to other approaches to attend to chronic
pain in patients. “Presumably, they were prescribed it and continued on it because of some sort of chronic
pain,” said Dr. Anupam Jena, lead author of the study and associate professor of health care policy at
Harvard Medical School.
There are still many ways to treat pain and the hospitals were supposed to look at other approaches, Dr.
Inaccurate patient satisfaction responses to blame
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has now decided to do away with the patient satisfaction
responses as part of a federal drive to improve on opioid prescribing practices. While following such a
practice, the doctors often felt that writing opioids was a means to obtain good scores. Similarly, hospitals
with a higher rank in inpatient pain control had higher rates of opioid use in patients, following their
“For patients who are similar across a broad range of characteristics ... there appears to be a large range
in the propensity of hospitals to prescribe opioids,” Jena said. “The variation is alarming because it means
some hospitals are doing it too much and some too little.” He calls for more research in order to ascertain
the appropriate opioid prescription standards.
Prescription drug abuse, like any other substance abuse, is treatable with the right intervention. There are
many reputed prescription drug rehab centers in the country which ensure that the treatment is longterm.
If a loved one is addicted to any prescription opioid and you are looking for prescription drug addiction
help, contact the Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-4501557 to connect to the best prescription drug addiction rehab in your vicinity.
For more information, please visit