Opioid addiction has developed into a crisis in the United States. These powerful painkillers, including oxycodone (commonly known as Oxycontin or Percocet) and Hydrocodone (known as Vicoprofen), are routinely prescribed for patients who are recovering from surgery or experiencing severe pain. They are highly addictive and over-prescribing these drugs can result in abuse, either by the patient or by someone else who has access to them. Many non-prescription opioid users get their drugs from a friend or family member.
A trio of new studies reveal that opioid prescriptions for women who have given birth through Cesarean section (C-section) are at high risk for abuse. Approximately 1.3 million C-sections are performed in the United States every year, making it the most common inpatient surgical procedure in the country. Studied showed that new mothers were not becoming addicted to the drugs, but over-prescription resulted in leftover pills that could be taken by a relative or friend.
Studies Show Over-Prescription is Common for C-Section Patients
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School examined data from 720 C-sections from six medical centers. Eighty-five percent of the patients filled an opioid prescription when they were discharged from the hospital, but most only used about half of the pills that they were prescribed. There was no significant difference in the pain score of women who were prescribed more pills, although women who were prescribed more tended to take more. Each patient had an average of 15 pills leftover; with 1.3 million procedures each year, 20 million unused pills could fall into the wrong hands.
A team at Vanderbilt University looked at the pain score from 179 C-section patients, 165 of whom were prescribed opioids. Patients were given doses ranging from eight to 84 pills, and more than 75 percent of them had leftover drugs. Only seven of the patients disposed of the leftovers; the majority kept the remainder.
The third study aimed to reduce over-prescription by counseling patients on opioid use before leaving the hospital. Women who underwent C-sections were shown a presentation outlining how much post-operative pain they should expect and compared the risks and benefits of opioid versus non-opioid pain management, including information on refill procedures and leftover drug disposal. Patients were then allowed to choose how many pills to take home, averaging out to 20 pills prescribed with about four pills leftover. Approximately 90 percent of the women were happy with their pain management plan.
Doctors Need Training to Effectively Use Opioid Prescriptions
The studies collectively reveal the need for more education on opioid prescriptions, both for patients and for doctors who overprescribe opioids. Opioid prescriptions must be tailored to the individual patient to prevent leftover drugs from entering the market. C-section patients may not need opioids to manage their pain, in which case an opioid prescription may do more harm than good. Manufacturers who promote opioids can make this problem worse by encouraging more prescriptions than necessary.
New Jersey Opioid Lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP Provide Comprehensive Representation in Opioid LawsuitsIf you or a loved one has suffered harm due to the over-prescription of opioids, call the New Jersey opioid lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP. We have the knowledge and experience to handle all types of opioid lawsuits. With offices conveniently located in Edison, Toms River, and Red Bank, we serve clients throughout New Jersey. Call us today at 732-777-0100 or contact us online for a free consultation with an experienced opioid lawyer.