The opioid crisis is a complex and pressing issue, with over-prescription contributing to a surge in opioid addiction and overdose deaths.
However, a new study presented at the European Emergency Medicine Congress offers new insights that could help strike a balance between adequate pain management and reducing the risk of misuse.
The research was led by Professor Raoul Daoust from the University of Montreal, Canada. It involved 2,240 adult patients discharged from emergency departments in Canada with prescriptions for opioid medications.
The study aimed to identify how many opioid tablets were actually necessary for patients to manage acute pain conditions effectively.
Number of Tablets: On average, half of the patients needed only five tablets of 5mg morphine or an equivalent opioid.
Condition-Based Need: The study revealed that the number of tablets needed varied considerably based on the specific pain condition. For example, patients with renal colic needed about eight tablets, whereas those with broken bones needed up to 24.
Better Pain Management
This research could help emergency medicine doctors in tailoring their opioid prescriptions to individual patients’ needs. This ensures that people get enough medication to manage their acute pain effectively.
Reducing Unused Tablets
The data also indicate that providing fewer tablets initially may be beneficial in reducing the number of unused tablets, which could lower the risk of misuse or accidental overdose.
By collaborating with pharmacists to dispense opioids in smaller portions, healthcare providers could further mitigate the risk of long-term misuse.
Professor Youri Yordanov, Chair of the EUSEM 2023 abstract committee, highlighted the global impact of this research.
According to him, the study shows how prescriptions could be adapted to specific acute pain conditions and dispensed in small quantities to reduce the chance of misuse.
The findings from this study could offer a safer and more effective way to prescribe opioids in emergency departments.
As a next step, researchers plan to apply these findings clinically to assess their impact on long-term use and misuse. This could be a pivotal step in combating the opioid crisis while ensuring patients receive the pain relief they need.
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