Dr. Larson reflects on splashes, ripples, and new research, which builds on his earlier findings from the ACT study.
Fatal overdoses involving prescribed opioids quadrupled from 1999 to 2009, climbing to almost 16,000 U.S. deaths annually—more than cocaine and heroin overdoses combined. What wasn’t clear was how to combat this growing threat.
Many people taking common Alzheimer’s disease medications—cholinesterase inhibitors—are given medications with anticholinergic properties, which oppose their effects. Group Health Research Institute scientists investigated how often that happens and reported on the consequences in an “Early View” study e-published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Opioids—a class of medicines commonly given for pain—were associated with a higher risk of pneumonia in a study of 3,061 adults, aged 65 to 94, e-published in advance of publication in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study from researchers at Group Health Research Institute and the University of Washington (UW) also found that benzodiazepines, which are drugs generally given for insomnia and anxiety, did not affect pneumonia risk.
A report in the August 2011 issue of Health Affairs describes a major initiative at Group Health to make opioid prescribing safer while improving care for patients with chronic pain. Health Affairs is the nation’s premier health policy journal, and its August issue focuses on substance abuse.
Guided by research and monitoring patients, Group Health’s new initiative for safer opioid prescribing has produced stunning results in just nine months. Claire Trescott, MD, medical director of primary care, leads this innovative effort to protect patient safety at Group Health—and nationwide.
More and more Americans with chronic pain not caused by cancer are taking medically prescribed opioids like Oxycontin (oxycodone) and Vicodin (hydrocodone). The January 19 Annals of Internal Medicine features the first study to explore the risk of overdose in patients prescribed opioids for chronic non-cancer pain in general health care. The study, published with an accompanying editorial, links risk of fatal and nonfatal opioid overdose to prescription use—strongly associating the risk with the prescribed dose.