Scientists trying to better understand the nation's rising opioid addictions have uncovered an interesting wrinkle: A patient's risk of getting hooked might depend on which ER doctor they happen to get. In a New England Journal of Medicine study, researchers found that patients whose ER doctors are more likely to prescribe opioids are more likely to develop an addiction compared to the patients of ER doctors who prescribe less frequently.
It may sound like an obvious chain of events, but it remains unclear why two patients given the same opioid prescription after similar complaints have different addiction risks depending on their ER doc. The takeaway is "not that high-intensity prescribers are necessarily irresponsible in prescribing opioids to certain patients," the lead author tells the New York Times. But "their patients have worse outcomes that we weren’t aware of before."
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