Do Ophthalmologists Demonstrate Discretion When Prescribing Opioids?

HealthDay News — Most ophthalmologists write no more than 10 opioid prescriptions annually, with a mean supply per prescription of 5 days, according to a study published online in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Shriji Patel, MD, and Paul Sternberg Jr, MD, both from Vanderbilt Eye Institute in Nashville, Tennessee, analyzed physician and beneficiary measures using Medicare Part D Prescriber Data (2013-2015) to determine prescribing patterns for opioid drugs for participating ophthalmologists.

The researchers found that, consistently, 88% to 89% of ophthalmologists wrote 10 opioid prescriptions or fewer annually. Only about 1% of ophthalmologists wrote more than 100 opioid prescriptions annually. 

On average, ophthalmologists wrote 7 opioid prescriptions per year with a mean supply of 5 days. The 6 states with the highest volume of annual opioid prescriptions per ophthalmologist were in the South.

“In general, ophthalmologists show discretion in their opioid prescribing patterns. The present opioid abuse epidemic should prompt physicians to consider revisiting their prescribing protocols given the high risk for dependency,” conclude the authors.

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Patel S, Sternberg P. Association between opioid prescribing patterns and abuse in ophthalmology [published online October 5, 2017]. JAMA Ophthalmol. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2017.4055