Traumatic Injury Not a Significant Driver for Continued Opioid Use

Researchers found only 1 percent of patients prescribed medication still took opioids one year after hospital discharge.
Researchers found only 1 percent of patients prescribed medication still took opioids one year after hospital discharge.

HealthDay News — Traumatic injury is not a main driver for continued opioid use in patients who were not taking opioids prior to their injuries, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Surgeons, held from Oct. 16 to 20 in Washington, D.C.

For the report, researchers examined 2007 to 2013 Department of Defense health system medical records. The researchers focused on 15,369 patients aged 18 to 64 who suffered from severe injuries. None had filled prescriptions for opioids in the six months before they were injured.

More than half filled opiate prescriptions after they left the hospital, but only 8.9% kept filling them three months later. That number decreased to 3.9% at six months and fell to 1.1% at one year, the researchers found. Older patients and low-income patients were more likely to continue using the opioids, the researchers found, as were patients hospitalized for more than two weeks.

"We were really surprised by how low the numbers were for long-term opiate use," senior investigator Andrew Schoenfeld, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said in a news release from the American College of Surgeons. "It appears that traumatic injury is not a main driver for continued opioid use in patients who were not taking opioids prior to their injuries."

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