Twelve states have more opioid prescriptions than people

Not every state has seen an equal rise in opioid use. In Hawaii, doctors wrote 52 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people in 2012, the least of any state according to a 2014 CDC study. In Alabama, it was almost 143 prescriptions per 100 people, more than anywhere else.

In all, 12 states had more opioid prescriptions than people 2012:

  • Alabama: 142.9 per 100 people
  • Tennessee: 142.8
  • West Virginia: 137.6
  • Kentucky: 128.4
  • Oklahoma: 127.8
  • Mississippi: 120.3
  • Louisiana: 118
  • Arkansas: 115.8
  • Indiana: 109.1
  • Michigan: 107
  • South Carolina: 101.8
  • Ohio: 100.1

The CDC study found no obvious geographic pattern to high levels of opioid prescriptions. If anything, researchers suspect that the variation shows a lack of consensus among doctors about how much pain medication to prescribe. Further, research shows that higher rates of prescription drug use don’t necessarily lead to better health outcomes or patient satisfaction.

“In fact, “the report says, “high rates of use might produce worse outcomes.”

Follow Prescription Advisory

The AAOS recommends the following tools, which have been shown to significantly reduce medication errors:

  • computerized physician order entry
  • computerized decision support systems
  • computerized monitoring of adverse drug events
  • pharmacist-assisted rounds
  • high-risk drug protocols

Overdose deaths are “just the tip of the iceberg”: that for every death there are many more hospital treatment admissions, emergency room visits, people who abuse or are dependent on prescription drugs and nonmedical users.

American Psychological Association

Although relieving pain and reducing suffering are primary emergency physician responsibilities, there is a concurrent duty to limit the personal and societal harm that can result from prescription drug misuse and abuse.

Pain Management / Clinical PolicyACEP Annals of Emergency Medicine 525, October 2012
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