In the study of 456 patients with acute gout discharged from emergency departments in Rhode Island, more than 28% received an opioid prescription. Of these, more than one-quarter of patients received 14 days or more of opioid prescriptions, longer than the natural course of a typical gout attack. Diabetes, gout attacks affecting multiple joints, and opioid use prior to admission were associated with an increased likelihood of receiving opioid prescriptions.
"We have a number of medications that can treat acute gout effectively, almost completely eliminating the need to use opioids. The fact that 28% of patients are being treated with opioids, and many longer than 2 weeks, is alarming and provides an opportunity to reduce the burden of prescription opioids," said co-lead author Deepan Dalal, MD, MPH, of Brown University Warren Alpert School of Medicine, in Providence.