Giving Compass' Take:
- At Futurity, Kara Gavin reports on a study of opioid prescriptions after dental work, which found a heightened risk of overdose in a patient's entire family.
- How can we work to uncover safer and more effective treatments for pain? What is your role in supporting research on less dangerous alternatives to opioid prescriptions?
- Read more about the far-reaching impact of opioid prescriptions in the U.S.
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Overdose rates were two-and-a-half times higher among patients who filled a prescription for an opioid medication after a dental procedure, compared with those who didn’t, according to a new study.
Overdose rates were also higher among the family members of these patients—possibly from misuse of the leftover pills.
For the study, researchers used data from 8.5 million dental procedures in teen and adult patients between 2011 and 2018 whose care Medicaid or private dental insurance covered. Nearly 27% of these patients filled a prescription for an opioid such as hydrocodone or oxycodone.
The researchers identified 2,700 overdoses that occurred in the 90 days after a tooth extraction or 119 other dental procedures. That works out to about three overdoses for every 10,000 dental procedures. The rate was 5.8 per 10,000 among those who filled an opioid prescription within three days of their procedure, compared with 2.2 per 10,000 among those who didn’t.
The study also used data from 3.5 million privately insured dental procedure patients to examine overdoses within 90 days in the patients’ family members. The rate of overdose was 1.7 per 10,000 procedures in family members of privately insured patients who filled opioid prescriptions, compared with 1 per 10,000 procedures among those who didn’t.
“Our paper shows that when patients fill dental opioid prescriptions, the risk of opioid overdose increases both for themselves and their family members,” says lead author Kao-Ping Chua, a pediatrician at Michigan Medicine.
“This underscores the importance of avoiding dental opioid prescribing when nonopioids like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are effective options for pain control, as is the case for the majority of dental procedures.
“Our finding of increased overdose risk in family members also shows the importance of emphasizing safe storage and disposal when prescribing opioids to dental patients.”
Read the full article about the widespread impact of opioid prescriptions by Kara Gavin at Futurity.