Science and Health

ERs Prescribing More Painkillers

A study published in Academic Emergency Medicine says between 2001 and 2010 ERs showed a 49 percent increase in prescriptions for opiates.

ERs Prescribing More Painkillers
Wikimedia Commons / Rotellam1

Ever been in the ER and gotten stronger painkillers than you may have needed?

A new study shows a severe increase in the number of emergency rooms prescribing pain medications like Vicodin, Percocet and Oxycodone. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Thierry Geoffroy)

The study conducted between 2001 and 2010 showed a 49 percent increase in ER prescriptions for opiates.

Now before you think stronger medicines may be better, an ER doctor in Kentucky told HealthDay sometimes Tylenol and ibuprofen are more suitable. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Rotellam1, Ragesoss)

HealthDay also explains why this might be happening. "In 2000, the Joint Commission, which accredits U.S. hospitals, set new standards for evaluating and treating patients' pain."

Which could have prompted some doctors to feel obligated to prescribe stronger pain meds.

Psych Central spoke with a few doctors who say this growing trend could be dangerous because people can become addicted.


"This trend is especially concerning given dramatic increases in opioid-related overdoses and fatalities in recent years."

The number of overdoses is surprising. The CDC says about 15,000 Americans die every year from them. And back in 2010, it estimated about 12 million Americans abused opiates.

Another fact from the CDC: "Enough prescription painkillers were prescribed in 2010 to medicate every American adult around-the-clock for a month."