Initial opioid prescription patterns and the risk of ongoing use and adverse outcomes

Prescription opioids have been increasingly used to treat acute and chronic pain over the past two decades in Canada and the United States. While opioids are an important tool in pain management, long-term use of these medications at high doses can lead to many harms, including increased risk of overdose. Current guidelines include recommendations regarding optimal initial opioid doses and duration of prescriptions, however these are largely based on expert opinion and studies among patients on chronic opioid therapy. As more thoughtful opioid prescribing is encouraged in clinical practice, physicians require information on how to safely initiate their patients on these medications when their use is deemed necessary.

This study examines the association between initial opioid prescription characteristics and the risk of overdose and long-term opioid use among new prescription opioid recipients.

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