A recent study released online in JAMA Internal Medicine, examined this pattern and found the prescriptions are
used and renewed more often than you might imagine, often opening the door to long-term use and dependence.
Researchers analyzed the pharmacy claims of a random sample of more than 623,000 Medicare beneficiaries who
were hospitalized in 2011. They only included people who did not have a prescription claim for opioids for at least
60 days before being hospitalized.
The results showed that 14.9 percent of the hospitalized beneficiaries filled a prescription for an opioid within a
week after being discharged. Of those who filled the first prescription, 42.5 percent had another pharmacy claim for
an opioid painkiller at least 90 days later. The JAMA Internal Medicine study found significant variations in the rate
of new opioid use by Medicare beneficiaries across hospitals, from 10 percent on the low end to 20 percent on the
Related: On July 6, 2016, the Centers for Medicare and
proposed to stop incorporating patient satisfaction responses regarding pain management
into hospital Medicare payment calculations. Some physicians
have said they feel pressure
to prescribe opioids in order to get good scores.