From the Journals

Almost one-third of ED patients with gout are prescribed opioids



Patients with gout who visit the emergency department are regularly prescribed opioids, based on a review of electronic medical records.

“In addition to regulatory changes, the burden of opioid prescription could be potentially reduced by creating prompts for providers in electronic record systems to avoid prescribing opioids in opioid-naive patients or using lower intensity and shorter duration of prescription,” wrote Deepan S. Dalal, MD, of Brown University, Providence, R.I., and coauthors. The study was published in Arthritis Care & Research.

To determine frequency, dose, and duration of opioid prescription at ED discharge, the researchers reviewed the records of 456 patients with acute gout who were discharged in Rhode Island between March 30, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2017. All data were gathered via electronic medical system records.

Of the 456 discharged patients, 129 (28.3%) were prescribed opioids; 102 (79%) were not on opioids at the time. A full prescription description was available for 119 of the 129 patients; 96 (81%) were prescribed oxycodone or oxycodone combinations. Hydrocodone was prescribed for 9 patients (8%) and tramadol was prescribed for 11 patients (9%).

The median duration of each prescription was 8 days (interquartile range, 5-14 days) and the average daily dose was 37.9 mg of morphine equivalent. Patients who were prescribed opioids tended to be younger and male. After multivariable analysis, diabetes, polyarticular gout attack, and prior opioid use were all associated with a more than 100% higher odds of receiving an opioid prescription.

The authors acknowledged their study’s limitations, including their inability to determine the physicians’ reasoning behind each prescription or the prescribing habits of each provider. In addition, they were only able to assess the prescriptions as being written and not the number of pills actually taken or not taken.

No conflicts of interest were reported.

SOURCE: Dalal DS et al. Arthritis Care Res. 2019 Jul 3. doi: 10.1002/acr.23928.

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