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JCOM Abstract


J Clin Outcomes Manage 
2010 Nov;17(11):511-518
Preventing prescription opioid overdose
Morgan LA, Weaver MF

Abstract Objective: To discuss considerations when prescribing opioids for pain management and suggest strategies to prevent inadvertent opioid overdose. Methods: Case presentation and review of the literature. Results: An increase in prescribing of opioids, particularly methadone, for chronic pain management has led to an increase in hospitalizations for opioid overdose among patients legitimately prescribed these agents. Combination use of other central nervous system depressants, including alcohol and benzodiazepines, contributes to an increase in morbidity and mortality. Screening for patients at risk, appropriate dose titration, and patient and caregiver education should be implemented to reduce the likelihood of overdose risk. Specific risk factors for opioid overdose include medication interactions, rapid dose escalation, and age-related changes in metabolism. Conclusion: Applying a systematic approach to prescribing opioids and monitoring for signs of intoxication can help prevent adverse outcomes.

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