Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Efforts to reduce opioid prescriptions may be hindering end-of-life pain management


News Release 20-Apr-2021
Oregon State University


PORTLAND, Ore. - Policies designed to prevent the misuse of opioids may have the unintended side effect of limiting access to the pain-relieving drugs by terminally ill patients nearing the end of their life, new research led by the Oregon State University College of Pharmacy suggests.

A study of more than 2,500 hospital patients discharged to hospice care over a nine-year period showed a decreasing trend of opioid prescriptions as well as an increase in the prescribing of less powerful, non-opioid analgesics, meaning some of those patients might have been undertreated for their pain compared to similar patients in prior years.

The findings, published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, are an important step toward optimizing pain management and minimizing the suffering of dying patients. Hospice care refers to treatments whose goal is to maximize comfort and quality of life as opposed to prolonging life.


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