Too many physicians are prescribing opioid medications for hospitalized older adults who may not need them. A new study found that one-third of 10,000 older patients were prescribed opioid pain medications, including Percocet and OxyContin, while hospitalized for non-surgical conditions.
These patients had a longer length of stay (six days vs. four) and were more often readmitted within 30 days. They were also more likely to be restrained or have bladder catheters while hospitalized, according to the retrospective analysis. Continue reading
In response to the nation’s epidemic of opioid addiction, health care leaders including U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy have urged providers to consider alternatives when helping patients manage pain.
Among those receiving the appeals are dentists, who have been among the leading prescribers of opioid pain medications, according to numerous studies. Dentists regularly write the prescriptions for patients who have undergone surgical tooth extractions, according to a research letter published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Continue reading
Chronic pain is a Catch-22 for many older adults. More than half of community-dwelling adults over age 65, and up to 80 percent of nursing home residents, suffer from persistent pain.
Exercise can improve flexibility, strength and mobility, but many people don’t exercise because it’s painful. That leads to a downward spiral of social isolation, depression, further withdrawal and increasing disability. Only 14.8 percent of adults 65 to 74 years and 7.9 percent of adults 75 years and older met both aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity guidelines in 2012 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Continue reading
Opioid addiction is at crisis levels in the United States. Over two million people are addicted to opioids, which include prescription painkillers, heroin and morphine. The total number of opioid pain relievers prescribed in the U.S. has skyrocketed in the past 25 years.
Data from the American Society of Pain Medicine (ASPM) indicate that of the 21.5 million Americans age 12 years or older who had a substance use disorder in 2014, 1.9 million involved prescription pain relievers.
The trend has led to more emergency department admissions and a tripling of overdose deaths. Continue reading
Recent Associated Press coverage of opioid pain medications, combined with new government data, serve as a reminder that opioids continue to be a scourge for public health officials looking to tamp down misuse of the drugs.
They help highlight the need for reporters not to lose sight of the ongoing efforts to control these powerful pills even as rising heroin use captures more of the headlines. Continue reading