WEDNESDAY, Jan. 8, 2020 (HealthDay News) — The percentage of emergency department visits with an opioid prescribed increased from 2006-2007 to 2010-2011 then decreased to 2016-2017, according to a study published online Jan. 8 in the National Health Statistics Reports, a publication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pinyao Rui, M.P.H., from the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Maryland, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2006 to 2017 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to describe trends in opioid prescribing at emergency department discharge.

The researchers observed an increase in the percentage of emergency department visits by adults with opioids prescribed at discharge from 19.0 percent in 2006 to 2007 to 21.5 percent from 2010 to 2011, followed by a decrease to 14.6 percent in 2016 to 2017. From 2010-2011 to 2016-2017, the highest rate of decrease was seen among visits by younger adults aged 18 to 44 years (from 25.5 to 15.3 percent) and among those living in medium or small metropolitan counties (24.3 to 14.5 percent). From 2006-2007 to 2010-2011, there was an increase in the percentage of visits with morphine-equivalent opioids prescribed, followed by a decrease through 2016 to 2017 (11.3 to 12.4 and 6.7 percent, respectively). Similar trends were seen for visits with opioids stronger than morphine prescribed (3.8 to 5.5 and 3.0 percent, respectively).

“Continuing to assess trends in opioid prescribing in the emergency department setting is important to monitor the effects of public health policy at the national level,” the authors write.

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