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“Doctor Shopping” After Orthopedic Trauma

“Doctor Shopping” After Orthopedic Trauma

Recent reports have shown that the negative consequences of narcotic use are increasing, and diversion of these drugs for non-medical use is growing, with Americans consuming about 80% of the global opioid supply and 99% of the global hydrocodone supply. There has been an alarming rise in unintentional overdose deaths in the United States over the past decade due largely from increases in prescriptions of narcotics. It has been estimated that up to 20% of prescription drug abusers receive their narcotics from one physician prescriber, but a growing percentage obtain these medications by seeking multiple providers, a phenomenon dubbed “doctor shopping.” Few studies, however, have looked at narcotic use in patients who have experienced orthopedic trauma. While some investigations have focused their attention on positive toxicology screenings at the time of admission after orthopedic trauma, there is limited research exploring the impact of postoperative doctor shopping and the role of orthopedic surgeons in this phenomenon. “It has been suspected that many orthopedic trauma patients may be at a higher risk for pre-injury narcotic use and doctor shopping,” says Hassan R. Mir, MD, MBA, FACS. Exploring the Problem Dr. Mir, Brent J. Morris, MD, and colleagues sought to identify the prevalence of patients who have had orthopedic traumas and were seeking multiple providers for narcotics after surgery in a study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. For the analysis, the researchers reviewed prescription records for 151 adults who were admitted to an orthopedic unit over a 1-year period and assessed data on narcotic prescriptions obtained 3 months before and within 6 months after each orthopedic procedure. Patients...
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