A new study says that almost all individuals who overdose on prescription opioids continue to receive prescriptions for these painkillers.
"We found the results both surprising and concerning," said lead author Dr. Marc R. Larochelle of Boston Medical Center.
"While this study wasn't designed to answer why, one possibility is that providers are not aware that their patients experienced an overdose when making the decision to continue prescribing opioids," Larochelle told Reuters Health by email.
‘The study found that just over 90% of the participants continued to receive prescription opioids after the overdose. More than half got the prescription from the same clinician.’
"This lack of knowledge may be a symptom of our fragmented health care system where there is no clear mechanism to communicate events from emergency department or inpatient settings to providers in the community."
The researchers used a national commercial insurance claims database in the study. With the data base, they identified almost 3,000 patients who experienced a nonfatal overdose, while taking long-term opioids suggested for chronic pain not related to cancer. Codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and tramadol were the identifed opioids.
Just over 90% of these patients continued to receive prescription opioids after the overdose. More than half got the prescription from the same clinician.