Lack of Prescriber Opioid Knowledge May Lead to Adverse Events or Death

A recent survey shows that a lack of knowledge of opioids among medical students, residents, and attending physicians could lead to adverse events or death. The survey was conducted at the anesthesiology, surgery, obstetrics and medicine departments at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.


Commenting on the survey results, Stephen F. Goldberg, MD, an anesthesiologist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the lead research said:

These results demonstrated a fundamental lack of knowledge in opioid prescribing, regardless of specialty or level of training. In addition to this, there’s a false sense of confidence that all providers have it in their ability to prescribe these medications. With the increased prevalence of opioid use and concomitant rise in adverse events, targeted education on all levels of training and all specialties is imperative.

These results demonstrate a persistent lack of knowledge. In Sentinel Event Alert #49 “Safe use of opioids in hospitals”, The Joint Commission states:

Opioid analgesics rank among the drugs most frequently associated with adverse drug events … Of the opioid-related adverse drug events – including deaths – that occurred in hospitals and were reported to The Joint Commission’s Sentinel Event database (2004-2011), 47 percent were wrong dose medication errors, 29 percent were related to improper monitoring of the patient, and 11 percent were related to other factors, including excessive dosing, medication interactions and adverse drug reactions.* These reports underscore the need for the judicious and safe prescribing and administration of opioids, and the need for appropriate monitoring of patients.

The survey was presented as a poster at this year’s annual of meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.






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