99% of trauma patients prescribed opioids cease use after 1 year: 5 study insights

Written by Jessica Kim Cohen | October 20, 2016 | Print  |

A study presented at this year's American College of Surgeons clinical congress found that prescription of opiate painkillers after trauma injury did not lead to long-term opioid use.

The researchers identified 15,369 severe injury patients from the U.S. Department of Defense's healthcare system TRICARE, which insures active-duty military, reserve members, retired veterans and their dependents.

 

Here's what you need to know:

 

1. A total of 53.9 percent of patients filled at least one opiate prescription soon after hospital discharge.

 

2. A total of 8.9 percent of patients continued to fill opiate prescriptions three months later.

 

3. A total of 3.9 percent of patients continued to fill opiate prescriptions six months later.

 

4. A total of 1.1 percent of patients continued to fill opiate prescriptions one year later.

 

5. The researchers identified several risk factors: older age, lower socioeconomic status and longer length of hospital stay were associated with prolonged opioid use.

 

"We were really surprised by how low the numbers were for long-term opiate use," said Andrew Schoenfeld, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, both located in Boston. "It appears that traumatic injury is not a main driver for continued opioid use in patients who were not taking opioids prior to their injuries."

 

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