(HealthDay News) — Orthopedic trauma patients who seek multiple narcotic providers postoperatively are at greater risk of prescription drug abuse, according to research published in the August 6 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Brent J. Morris, MD, of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN, and colleagues analyzed data for 130 patients in a prospective cohort of orthopedic trauma patients. The authors sought to examine the effects of multiple postoperative narcotic providers on patterns of use of narcotics.

The researchers found that 20.8% of patients sought multiple narcotic providers postoperatively. Patients with multiple narcotic providers, compared with a single narcotic provider, had a greater number of postoperative narcotic prescriptions (seven vs. two prescriptions; P<0.001), longer duration of narcotic use (110 vs. 28 days; P<0.001), and greater morphine equivalent dose per day (43 vs. 26mg; P=0.002). Risk factors for seeking multiple narcotic providers included history of preoperative narcotic use (relative risk, 4.5; P<0.001) and high school education or less (relative risk, 3.2; P=0.02).

“Orthopedic surgeons must prescribe narcotic medications in the postoperative period with great care and vigilance to minimize the risk of abuse, dependence, and narcotic-related adverse events in their patients,” the authors write.

One or more of the authors disclosed financial ties to biomedical companies.

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