Switching Opioids Increases Risk of Overdose Death, Study Says

Taryn Tawoda -   Print  |
A study reveals that patients switching from one opioid to another even at recommended dosage levels may face a higher risk of death, according to American News Report.

"A dramatic increase in unintentional deaths from opioids has occurred over the past decade with strong inference that many of these deaths may be resulting from prescriber's error," wrote Lynn Webster, MD, and Perry Fine, MD, in the April issue of Pain Medicine. Dr. Webster and Dr. Fine recommended three steps for physicians to switch their patients' opioid prescriptions:

Reduce the original opioid dose by 10 to 30 percent while starting the new opioid at the lowest available dose.

Reduce the original opioid dose by 10 to 25 percent per week while increasing the dose of the new daily opioid dose by 10 to 20 percent.

Provide a sufficient immediate-release opioid dosage throughout the rotation to prevent withdrawal, and keep pain levels down so the patient is not tempted to take too much medication.

Related Articles on Pain Management:
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