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Study: Powerful Painkillers Increasingly Prescribed In ERs

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Prescriptions for narcotic painkillers, or opiates, in emergency departments rose 49 percent between 2001 and 2010, according to a new study. The finding raises concerns over the risks of addiction and misuse

Emergency departments in America are increasingly prescribing strong painkilling drugs like Oxycontin and Vicodin amid rising use of the medications nationally.

Prescriptions for narcotic painkillers, or opiates, in emergency departments rose 49 percent between 2001 and 2010, according to a study published in this month’s issue of Academic Emergency Medicine.

Doctors have increasingly prescribed the potent painkillers in part because of a movement to improve pain management, according to CBS. But doctors are also increasingly incentivized to please patients—some hospitals offer pay incentives linked to patient satisfaction–and may prescribe the medication to patients who ask for it.

The rising use of narcotic painkillers has prompted concerns over the risks of addiction and misuse. Roughly 15,000 Americans die annually from overdosing, and some 12 million people abuse the medication, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

[CBS News]

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