Doctor Shopping for Narcotics Common among Trauma Patients

A study in the August 6, 2014 JBJS revealed that the prevalence of postoperative “doctor shopping” among a cohort of 130 orthopaedic trauma patients in Tennessee was a surprisingly high 20.8%. This study used the state-controlled substance monitoring database to identify the narcotic prescriptions filled by patients three months prior to surgery and up to six months after discharge. The study segmented the test group into those who received prescriptions only from the treating surgeon or healthcare extender and those who got prescriptions from multiple doctors and extenders.

According to the study, patients who doctor shopped received an average of seven prescriptions for narcotics compared to an average of two prescriptions among those who got prescriptions from a single provider. Those with a high-school education or less were three times more likely to seek out multiple providers. According to Dr. Douglas Lundy, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, “I think what the study tells us is there is a subgroup of patients you need to be a little more vigilant on, that they may be taking more drugs than you think they’re taking.”

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