Interpreting the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: United States Emergency Department Opioid Prescribing, 2006-2010

Bory Kea, Rochelle Fu, Robert A Lowe, Benjamin C Sun
Academic Emergency Medicine: Official Journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine 2016, 23 (2): 159-65

OBJECTIVES: Prescription opioid overdoses are a leading cause of death in the United States. Emergency departments (EDs) are potentially high-risk environments for doctor shopping and diversion. The hypothesis was that opioid prescribing rates from the ED have increased over time.

METHODS: The authors analyzed data on ED discharges from the 2006 through 2010 NHAMCS, a probability sample of all U.S. EDs. The outcome was documentation of an opioid prescription on discharge. The primary independent predictor was time. Covariates included severity of pain, a pain-related discharge diagnosis, age, sex, race, payer, hospital ownership, and geographic location of hospital. Up to three discharge diagnoses were available in NHAMCS to identify "pain-related" (e.g., back pain, fracture, dental/jaw pain, nephrolithiasis) ED visits. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to assess the independent associations between opioid prescribing and predictors. All analyses incorporated NHAMCS survey weights, and all results are presented as national estimates.

RESULTS: Opioids were prescribed for 18.7% (95% confidence interval = 17.7% to 19.7%) of all ED discharges, representing 18.8 million prescriptions per year. There were no significant temporal trends in opioid prescribing overall (adjusted p = 0.93). Pain-related discharge diagnoses that received the top three highest proportion of opioids prescriptions included nephrolithiasis (62.1%), neck pain (51.6%), and dental/jaw pain (49.7%). A pain-related discharge diagnosis, non-Hispanic white race, older age, male sex, uninsured status, and Western region were positively associated with opioid prescribing (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: No temporal trend toward increased prescribing from 2006 to 2012 was found. These results suggest that problems with opioid overprescribing are multifactorial and not solely rooted in the ED.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"