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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Opioid prescribing after nonfatal overdose and association with repeated overdose: a cohort study.

Larochelle MR, Liebschutz JM, Zhang F, et al. Ann Inter Med. 2016;164(1):1-9.

Opioid medications are a known safety hazard, and overdoses of opioid medications are considered an epidemic in the United States. This cohort study examined treatment patterns for patients who had experienced a nonfatal opioid overdose. More than 90% of patients were prescribed opioids following such events, and within 2 years up to 17% of those patients experienced another overdose event. An accompanying editorial notes the lack of systems to ensure clinicians' awareness of patients' opioid overdoses and recommends enhancing training and support so that clinicians are prepared to treat chronic pain and addiction. New approaches are urgently needed given this crisis in medication safety. A previous WebM&M commentary discussed the challenges of prescribing safely for chronic opioid users.