«

»

Sep 16

One in Five Patients Treated for Broken Bones Doctor Shops for Painkillers, New Study Finds

About one in five patients who are treated for broken bones or other orthopedic trauma doctor shops for additional prescriptions for painkillers after surgery, said a new study.

Led by Dr. Brent Morris, a neck and shoulder surgeon in Lexington, Ky., the study published in the August issue of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, explored the medical and pharmacy records of 130 patients aged 18 to 64 who sought treatment at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2011. The study examined painkiller prescriptions for three months before admission and six months after discharge of patients suffering from single orthopedic injuries, such as broken legs, ankles and arms.

Scientists found that overall, 21 percent of the patients tried to get narcotic painkillers – like Vicodin and Oxycontin – from more than just their surgeon. Patients who weren’t college educated were 3.2 times more likely to try to get the drugs from more than one doctor. Those who had used narcotic painkillers before were 4.5 times more likely.

The study found that mostly white males were doctor shoppers, and they used narcotics for about 3.5 months after surgery. Single-provider painkiller users took them for an average of four weeks. Many obtained seven or more narcotic prescriptions compared to just two for single-provider patients.

The study did not find whether or not the doctor shoppers had legitimate pain.

Julie Worley, an assistant professor of nursing at Rush University in Chicago, who has studied the trend, said, “The ER is definitely an area where people doctor-shop. But I don’t know that they’re going to be having an orthopedic trauma to get drugs,” adding that it’s possible that some of the patients went to their own physicians in search of painkillers.

Morris echoed that sentiment. “There needs to be coordination if additional pain medications are needed,” he said. “Patients should not be receiving multiple narcotic pain medication prescriptions from multiple providers without coordinating with their treating surgeon.”

Accidental overdose deaths involving prescription painkiller use has skyrocketed over the past decade. Patients who doctor shop are often already addicted to the meds or are looking to get drugs they can sell, Worley said. While many states track these prescriptions to prevent abuse, the systems “have many issues and aren’t foolproof,” and doctors are often hesitant to confront patients.

Morris and Worley called for a more responsible system to prevent patients from abusing these painkillers.

 

http://www.cadca.org/resources/detail/one-five-patients-treated-broken-bones-doctor-shops-painkillers-new-study-finds