Outpatient opioid prescriptions for children and opioid-related adverse events.
Reducing the incidence of opioid overdoses and overdose deaths is an essential patient safety priority. In the last decade, children have experienced a dramatic rise in hospitalizations and intensive care unit stays for opioid poisoning. Researchers examined outpatient opioid prescriptions to children who did not have serious illnesses like cancer or sickle cell disease in Tennessee between 1999 and 2014. Dentists prescribed the largest share of more than 1 million opioid prescriptions, followed by surgeons. The authors conclude that 1 in every 2611 prescriptions resulted in an emergency department visit or hospitalization. An accompanying editorial contextualizes the study findings and offers suggestions, such as relying on less toxic analgesics for dental procedures and choosing alternatives to codeine for children who need opioids. A past PSNet perspective examined the patient safety implications of the opioid epidemic.