Timing of dental procedures corresponds with opioid prescription fills

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Having an outpatient dental procedure performed the day before a weekend or a holiday means patients are more likely to fill an opioid prescription, according to a study in The Journal of the American Dental Association.

Researchers studied insurance claims data from Truven Health MarketScan for nearly 240 million Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance. They examined same-day opioid prescriptions people ages 13 to 64 who underwent eligible dental procedures between 2013 and 2017. The patients had not filled an opioid prescription in the 90 days before the procedure.

When the procedure occurred the day before a weekend or holiday, there was a 27 percent increased adjusted chance of filling an opioid prescription compared to procedures occurring on other weekdays.

“Variation in opioid prescription fills may put some patients at increased risk,” Caitlin R. Priest, one of the article’s authors and a medical student at the University of Michigan, said. “Now that we understand that dental opioid prescription fills were increased on Fridays and before holidays, we can create and disseminate best practices to avoid unnecessary prescribing.”

Most dental procedures do not necessitate the need for opioids, the researchers said. Nonopioid analgesics and patient education should be used instead.

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