One in 10 Older Dental Patients Inappropriately Prescribed Opioids
A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago and the University of Pittsburgh suggests that a significant proportion of older patients receiving opioids at dental visits also use psychotropic medications.
A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago and the University of Pittsburgh suggests that a significant proportion of older patients receiving opioids at dental visits also use psychotropic medications — a potentially harmful combination. Their findings are published in the journal Pharmacotherapy.
Rates of polypharmacy, or taking multiple medications, are high among older adults who are more likely to be managing more than one health issue at any given time. Psychotropic medications that act on the central nervous system, such as antianxiety or antidepressant medications, are especially dangerous if taken with opioids because they can interact with each other and have negative effects.
The average age of the patients included in the study was 69 years old and 45% were female. Of these patients, 10% were taking medications that are associated with increased risks for harm with opioid prescriptions.
There were a total of 947 hospitalizations or emergency room visits among these patients.
The researchers found that among patients prescribed opioids by their dentist, 1 in 10 were already taking a prescription medication that should not be prescribed with opioids.
They also found that patients inappropriately prescribed an opioid medication combination by their dentist were 23% more likely to be hospitalized or visit an emergency department in the 30 days after the dental visit where they were prescribed an opioid, compared with dental patients who were not prescribed an opioid medication.