BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Following the barrage of disturbing trends that has been flooding the media lately regarding prescription medication, a group of researchers from the Boston Medical Center discovered that opioid overdoses are no match for the power of prescriptions.
The study, led by Dr. Marc Larochelle from the Boston Medical Center, used a sample of 3000 patients who suffered from non-fatal overdoses between 2000 and 2012.
The patients were selected based on a number of criteria – them taking long-term opioid medication for chronic pains that were not related to cancer.
The subjects were identified via Optum, a commercial insurance database.
The researchers were shocked to find that over 90% of the patients who overdosed were given further prescriptions for the same opioid. Even more unsettling, said the lead author, was that 50% of them got the prescription from the same doctor.
From the 3000 subjects, 212, or 7% suffered from a second overdose within two years of the first one. However, if two years passed and no second overdose transpired, the chances of the patient having one decreased by half.
It was also found that the highest chances of overdose were present for those subjects with the highest dosage medication.
A surprising number of those patients whose prescriptions were interrupted – 8 percent out of the initial 10 percent – were reported to still have a second overdose despite their lack of a prescription.
Regarding what there is to be done about the findings, the doctors don’t really know how to proceed with their findings.
The best solution they can hope for is for the overdosing patients to receive an increasingly smaller dose of the painkiller opioid, as cutting the medicine off completely can lead to serious withdrawal issues.
Besides that, nothing can be done except to instruct medical personnel to actually make a few phone calls to find out their patient’s history, see if they had any recent overdoses reported at nearby hospitals.
If they did, something should be worked out between the doctor and the patient, so that the opioids are slowly tapered off, and another therapeutic method viable for the patient is found of common accord.
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