August 23, 2017

Long-term opioid use rarely starts with surgery

By: Judy Mathias

Editor’s Note

The initial event associated with exposure to prescription opioids is often thought to be an injury or surgical procedure, but this study finds that opioid use rarely starts with surgical procedures.

Of 117,118 patients with sustained prescription opioid use who were analyzed, just 800 (0.7%) received their initial prescription after an inpatient encounter, and only 458 (0.4%) of those had an inpatient surgical procedure.

The most common diagnosis associated with the initial opioid prescription was back pain or pain described in medical code as “other ill-defined conditions.” 

This review of data from the Military Health Data Repository examines causes of sustained prescription opioid use.

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