E.R. Doctors Face Quandary on Painkillers

From the NY Times:

The frequent prescription of narcotics in emergency departments for dental pain has been quantified for the first time by research financed by the National Institutes of Health, bringing to light another way opioids get into circulation and contribute to the rampant abuse of painkillers in the United States.

From 1997 to 2007, painkillers were prescribed in three of four visits to the emergency department for dental complaints; roughly half of visits resulted in a prescription for antibiotics, according to a new analysis of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey by Dr. Christopher Okunseri, a practicing dentist and an associate professor of public health at the Marquette University School of Dentistry in Milwaukee.

Over that period, the number of painkiller prescriptions for dental patients in emergency departments rose 26 percent, and antibiotic prescriptions jumped 41 percent, according to the report, published online in January in the journal Medical Care.

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