HealthDay News — According to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Surgeons in Washington, DC, traumatic injury is not a main factor for continued use of opioids in patients who were not taking opioids prior to their injuries.

For the report, researchers examined 2007 to 2013 Department of Defense health system medical records. The researchers focused on 15,369 patients aged 18 to 64 who suffered from severe injuries. None had filled prescriptions for opioids in the 6 months before they were injured.

More than half filled opiate prescriptions after they left the hospital, but only 8.9% kept filling them 3 months later. That number decreased to 3.9% at 6 months and fell to 1.1% at 1 year, the researchers found. 

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Older patients and low-income patients were more likely to continue using the opioids, the researchers found, as were patients hospitalized for more than 2 weeks.

“We were really surprised by how low the numbers were for long-term opiate use,” senior investigator Andrew Schoenfeld, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said in a news release from the American College of Surgeons. “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.”


Opiate Painkillers Prescribed After Severe Injury Do Not Lead to Long-Term Use [press release]. Washington, DC: American College of Surgeons; October 19, 2016.

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