Prescription rates for powerful opioid pain pills that have high potential for abuse are high even for hospital patients who have not undergone surgery, according to a new study published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine. 

More than 50 percent of patients studied who did not have surgery were prescribed an opioid, a type of narcotic painkiller including oxycodone and morphine, with over one-quarter of non-surgical patients still on the medications when they were discharged from the hospital, according to the report.

Overall, 43 percent of patients regardless of surgical status were given multiple opioid painkillers, with the average patient receiving about 68 milligrams of oral morphine daily.

“Prior studies have found that higher opioid doses are associated with a heightened risk of adverse events,” said Dr. Shoshana J. Herzig, a hospitalist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “Patients receiving doses of 100 mg per day or more are at substantially greater risk for serious problems, including severe breathing problems.”

Painkiller abuse and addiction has been steadily on the rise over the last decade, with sixty percent of all drug overdose deaths linked to prescription medications in 2010. Since 2007, women have been at a higher risk of dying from a prescription drug overdose than from passing away in a motor vehicle accident. Read the full details here:

Narcotic pain pill rates high for patients who don’t have surgery: Study

Pain relievers are essential and it only seems humane to prescribe opioids for those in significant pain. At the same time, these medications are not without risk. They can lead to breathing problems and death. From a long term perspective, they can lead to crippling drug addictions. If you can avoid opioids, do so. If you need them, take as little as possible for as short of a term as possible.

If you or anyone in your family has suffered serious side effects or damages from a medication error you should seek legal investigation immediately. Crandall & Pera Law is available to help answer your questions and guide you in determining your next steps.