Don't blame the surgeons: Long-term opioid use rarely starts with surgery, study finds

Los Angeles Times – Don’t blame the nation’s surgeons for an opiate-abuse crisis that now claims 142 lives daily in the United States. New research suggests that patients leaving the hospital after surgeries or inpatient procedures are rarely the ones whose long-term opioid use started with a doctor’s prescription.

Instead, the patients who most frequently go on to use opioid medications for six months or more got their first prescription for some sort of back pain, or for pain described in medical code as “other ill-defined conditions,” according to a research letter published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Surgery.

The authors identified 117,118 patients insured through the military’s Tricare system who had opioid medications prescribed for six months or more and found that “only 800 individuals (0.7%) received their initial opioid prescription following an inpatient encounter, with 458 (0.4%) having undergone an inpatient procedure.”

Read more at Los Angeles Times.

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