Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Nearly 30% of opioid prescriptions lack valid medical justification

The researchers in this study found that doctors are prescribing opioids even to patients who don't have any pain-related symptoms. Why?

Bottle of opioid pills
A new study suggests that some doctors are prescribing opioids willy-nilly. (Photo: Jonathan Perez on Unsplash)


Americans have clear reasons to ensure opioids are prescribed responsibly.

The synthetic painkillers kill about 46 people in the U.S. every day, and the number of deaths from all kinds of opioids in 2017 exceeded 49,000, a number that tops deaths from car accidents or guns for the same year.

Despite these dangers, new research shows that doctors failed to list a good reason for why they prescribed opioids in nearly a third of cases over a 10-year period.

A team from Harvard Medical School and the RAND Corporation analyzed thousands of medical records obtained from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. The study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, found that 66.4% of opioid prescriptions were linked to a condition known to cause pain, and 5.1% were tied to cancer.

But documentation for 28.5% of opioid prescriptions failed to provide a valid medical reason for why patients needed the drugs.

“For these visits, it is unclear why a physician chose to prescribe an opioid or whether opioid therapy is justified,” Dr. Tisamarie B. Sherry, lead author of the study and an associate physician policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, told CNN. “The reasons for this could be truly inappropriate prescribing of opioids or merely lax documentation.”

From 2006 to 2015, opioids were prescribed in more than 800 million outpatient visits across the country. That number maybe shouldn’t be a surprise considering 11% of American adults experience daily pain, and the drugs provide a quick and pleasant escape.

As the opioid crisis rages on, many concerned families and organizations have turned a critical eye on the doctors who act as the gatekeepers of the dangerous prescription medication.

In 2016, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines for how doctors should prescribe opioids. The new guidelines direct doctors to prescribe lower doses over shorter, finite timeframes and to consider alternative, non-pharmacological treatments, like cognitive behavioral therapy or an ice pack. These more cautious approaches, combined with national media attention on the opioid crisis and hundreds of lawsuits against opioid makers, seemed to have helped lower prescription rates. But many say it’s not enough.

“It’s still too high,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of the CDC, told NBC News. “We are heading in the right direction but we have a long way to go.”

The authors of the new study suggested improving the documentation of the opioid prescription process would help that effort.

“Transparently and accurately documenting the justification for opioid therapy is essential to ensure appropriate, safe prescribing; yet, providers currently fall far short of this, particularly when renewing prescriptions,” the researchers wrote.

“Requiring more robust documentation to show the clinical necessity of opioids—which many insurers already do for novel, costly drugs—could prompt providers to more carefully consider the need for opioids while facilitating efforts to identify inappropriate prescribing.”

Take your career to the next level by raising your EQ

Emotional intelligence is a skill sought by many employers. Here's how to raise yours.

Gear
  • Daniel Goleman's 1995 book Emotional Intelligence catapulted the term into widespread use in the business world.
  • One study found that EQ (emotional intelligence) is the top predictor of performance and accounts for 58% of success across all job types.
  • EQ has been found to increase annual pay by around $29,000 and be present in 90% of top performers.
Keep reading Show less

Yale scientists restore cellular function in 32 dead pig brains

Researchers hope the technology will further our understanding of the brain, but lawmakers may not be ready for the ethical challenges.

Still from John Stephenson's 1999 rendition of Animal Farm.
Surprising Science
  • Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine successfully restored some functions to pig brains that had been dead for hours.
  • They hope the technology will advance our understanding of the brain, potentially developing new treatments for debilitating diseases and disorders.
  • The research raises many ethical questions and puts to the test our current understanding of death.
Keep reading Show less

Face mask study reveals worst material for blocking COVID-19

A study published Friday tested how well 14 commonly available face masks blocked the emission of respiratory droplets as people were speaking.

Fischer et al.
Coronavirus
  • The study tested the efficacy of popular types of face masks, including N95 respirators, bandanas, cotton-polypropylene masks, gaiters, and others.
  • The results showed that N95 respirators were most effective, while wearing a neck fleece (aka gaiter) actually produced more respiratory droplets than wearing no mask at all.
  • Certain types of homemade masks seem to be effective at blocking the spread of COVID-19.
Keep reading Show less

You want to stop child abuse? Here's how you can actually help.

Sharing QAnon disinformation is harming the children devotees purport to help.

Photo: Atjanan Charoensiri / Shutterstock
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The conspiracy theory, QAnon, is doing more harm than good in the battle to end child trafficking.
  • Foster youth expert, Regan Williams, says there are 25-29k missing children every year, not 800k, as marketed by QAnon.
  • Real ways to help abused children include donating to nonprofits, taking educational workshops, and becoming a foster parent.
Keep reading Show less
Strange Maps

Here’s a map of Mars with as much water as Earth

A 71% wet Mars would have two major land masses and one giant 'Medimartian Sea.'

Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast