Even as overdoses from narcotic prescription painkiller reach record levels in the United States, a new report finds that most people who survive such events continue to be prescribed the drugs by their doctors.
The new study found that this happened in more than 90 percent of cases, and patients who continued on drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet after an overdose had twice the odds of overdosing again within the next two years.
“Seventy percent of patients who overdosed were getting their drugs from the same doctor who prescribed the narcotic before the overdose,” noted lead researcher Dr. Marc Larochelle, an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and a general internal medicine physician at Boston Medical Center.
In many cases, doctors who continued to prescribe the narcotics didn’t even know that their patients had suffered an overdose. “This signals a problem with the health system, but I don’t think it necessarily fingers doctors as being bad doctors,” he said.
The problem, he said, is that emergency department records rarely find their way to a patient’s doctor. That’s because the record of an overdose is not automatically sent to the doctor who prescribed the drug, Larochelle said.
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