Little information is available on the prescription filling of pain medication for children. In adult populations, opioid prescription fill rate disparities are connected with race and insurance type. Researchers hypothesize that established inequities in pain treatment for children are worsened by age and race differences in opioid prescription filling rates. For a study, investigators sought to determine if any demographic or clinical characteristics contribute to disparities in opioid prescription fill rates after leaving the pediatric emergency department (ED).

It was a retrospective cross-sectional analysis of all patients under the age of 19 who were discharged with an opioid prescription from one of two pediatric emergency departments in 2018. They used multivariable logistic regression to assess the relationships between prescription filling and demographic and clinical characteristics. 

Opioids were prescribed to 287 patients during their appointments. About 40% of prescriptions were filled. The majority of patients were male (53%) and black (69%) with public insurance (55%). There was no statistically significant relationship between prescription filling and age, insurance status, or race/ethnicity. Patients with sickle cell disease were more likely to fill prescriptions (odds ratio 3.87, 95% CI 2.33-6.43), whereas those without a primary care physician were less likely (odds ratio 0.16, 95% CI 0.03-0.84).

Less than half of opioid prescriptions are filled at the conclusion of a pediatric emergency department visit. The opioid prescription filling is unrelated to patient age, insurance status, or race/ethnicity.