A new report suggests that hospitals may be contributing to the soaring rate of prescription drug overdoses in this country.
Here in Pennsylvania, the number of prescription drug overdoses has risen by 89 percent in the past 14 years. When researchers analyzed data from 286 hospitals from around the country, they found more than half of all non-surgical patients were prescribed opioids.
The narcotics were often given at very high doses and more than half of the patients were still receiving the medications when they were discharged. Researchers found that 43 percent of patients were given multiple opioids during heir stay, with an average dose equivalent to a very high daily dose of morphine.
The study found widespread regional variation in the use of opioids throughout the country, with a 37 percent difference between the highest and lowest prescribing regions. Patients in the west were more likely to be given opoids than those living in the northeast.
The study is published on-line in The Journal of Hospital Medicine.