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Characteristics of initial prescription episodes and likelihood of long-term opioid use—United States, 2006–2015.

Shah A, Hayes CJ, Martin BC. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report. 2017;66:265-269.

Opioid use has become a growing patient safety concern. Recent studies have documented wide variation in opioid prescribing for acute pain and a significant rate of chronic opioid use after patients receive a first prescription for an acute indication. This retrospective medical record review study identified risk factors for remaining on an opioid medication for more than 1 year following their initial prescription. Older, female, and publicly or self-insured patients were more likely to remain on an opioid compared with younger, male, and privately insured patients. Patients started on higher doses (cumulative dose ≥ 700 mg morphine equivalent), provided prescriptions with longer duration (more than 10 days), or given 3 or more prescriptions for opioids were most likely to continue to use opioid medications 1 year later. The authors recommend prescribing fewer than 7 days of opioids for acute pain and adhering to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guideline for opioid use to improve prescribing practices.