Could the rising death rate of middle-aged white Americans be due to inadequate pain management and education?
Two Princeton University economists – Drs. Angus Deaton and Anne Case, who last month won the 2015 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science – analyzed health and mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from other sources.
The analysis by Dr. Deaton and Dr. Case may offer the most rigorous evidence to date of both the causes and implications of a development that has been puzzling demographers in recent years: the declining health and fortunes of poorly educated American whites. In middle age, they are dying at such a high rate that they are increasing the death rate for the entire group of middle-aged white Americans, Dr. Deaton and Dr. Case found.
In an interview with Dr. Deaton, he noted “data showing an uptick in reliance on opioid painkillers — an epidemic that started in the late 1990s that has been linked with terrible health and mortality outcomes.”
So, what can be done to improve this situation?
Failure to effectively monitor postoperative patients for opioid-induced respiratory depression again made ECRI Institute’s 2016 Technology Hazards List. ECRI recommends implementing the recommendations of the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF) and The Joint Commission:
Hospitalized patients receiving postoperative opioids—such as morphine, hydromorphone, or fentanyl—are at risk for drug-induced respiratory depression, which can lead to anoxic brain injury or death.
Even if they are otherwise healthy, such patients can be at risk if, for example:
- They are receiving another drug that also has a sedating effect.
- They have diagnosed or undiagnosed comorbidities that predispose them to respiratory compromise, such as morbid obesity or sleep apnea.
- A medication error results in delivery of more medication than intended—for example, an error is made when programming the dose or concentration on the infusion pump, or a bag or syringe of the wrong concentration or wrong medication is used.
Intermittent spot checks of oxygenation and ventilation every few hours are inadequate for reliably detecting opioid induced respiratory depression.
To address this problem, a healthcare facility’s medical leadership should implement the relevant recommendations from the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF) and the Joint Commission.Hospitalized #patients receiving #postoperative #opioids at risk for drug-induced respiratory depression @ECRI_Institute Click To Tweet
Better Opioid Education
Research presented in poster form during PAINWeek 2015 of a survey of 85 pain management specialists found that a “majority of members of the medical community admit that they haven’t received enough training on long-term opioids to properly manage chronic pain patients”: