Obamacare program may be linked to increase ER opioid prescriptions

Obamacare program may be linked to increase ER opioid prescriptions

Experts say too many patients are being prescribed opioid painkillers by emergency room doctors, and a program created by Obamacare could be enabling the problem.

A new study released this week found 17 percent of nearly 20,000 patients were discharged from emergency rooms with an opioid prescription. Experts and lawmakers say a push under Obamacare for hospitals to get good patient satisfaction scores is one cause of the problem.

America is in the midst of an opioid “epidemic,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Painkillers killed more than 16,000 people in 2013. A huge part of the problem is the prescribing of painkillers, which quadrupled from 1999 to 2013.

Emergency room prescriptions are part of this trend, but data are lacking on the reasons opioids are given out, according to the study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

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