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Larissa Doucette

With the goal of helping to prevent prescription opiate overdoses while ensuring patients are treated appropriately for pain, a group of investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital recently analyzed factors that increased the risk of recurrent opioid overdoses requiring emergency department visits.

The study identified several risk factors that were associated with repeat visits for overdoses including additional health conditions such as alcohol and drug dependence, psychiatric or neurological illness, and chronic pulmonary disease. The study also found that such patients are more likely to need respiratory support with a mechanical ventilator, and to be admitted for hospitalization, an MGH press release indicated. “Our understanding of characteristics that increase the risks associated with the use of opioid pain medications is still limited, so future studies to better define those risks and develop targeted prevention-oriented care will be essential to improving the care of patients taking these powerful drugs that can be so important for their quality of life,” the lead author of the study noted. An article presenting the study findings will be published in the April issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.