Deaths from drug overdose in 2017 alone exceeded the total number of Americans who died during the entire Vietnam War, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. The majority of those, of course, were opioids.
It’s virtually impossible to report on health today and not cover the opioid epidemic, whether in-depth, occasionally or tangentially. That’s particularly true in areas hit hardest by opioid use and overdoses, such as Appalachia (Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia), Maryland/D.C., and New England (Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts). Continue reading
What are people leaving out in the conversation about the opioid crisis?
Joshua Barocas, who teaches Boston University’s School of Medicine, said the answer is embedded in the question. “Opioids themselves aren’t the crisis,” he said. “Overdoses are the crisis.” Continue reading
While technology alone cannot solve the opioid epidemic, it can play an important role in reducing overprescribing and co-prescribing opioids with other drugs that can raise the risk of overdose. A new report has offered recommendations on improving technologies in clinical settings for safer prescribing practices.
The ECRI Institute, a respected patient safety research nonprofit, and the HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association, an electronic health records (EHR) trade group, convened a workgroup to analyze health IT data from patient safety organizations and other sources. Continue reading
Prescription rates of opioids and benzodiazepines are on the rise among the older adult population, according to two recent studies. And that is cause for concern, say researchers.
In one study, Greg Rhee, Ph.D., an adjunct assistant professor in the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, examined prescribing trends in outpatient settings of opioids and benzodiazepines. His analysis found that between 2006-07 and 2014-15, the prescription rates of benzodiazepine drugs such as Xanax and Halcion increased from 4.8 percent to 6.2 percent; the rate of prescription opioids alone increased from 5.9 percent to 10 percent, and the co-prescribing rate of both benzodiazepines and opioids increased over time from 1.1 percent to 2.7 percent, respectively. Continue reading
Physicians are being encouraged to curtail prescribing of powerful narcotics in response to the nation’s opioid crisis. So some patients who need relief from pain due to chronic conditions, trauma, or post-surgical recovery are turning to over-the-counter options. But just because they’re sold at your local drug store doesn’t mean OTC drugs are completely safe either. Continue reading