HSR&D Citation Abstract
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Opioid Prescribing by Dentists in the Veterans Health Administration.
Suda KJ, Evans CT, Gibson G, Jurasic MM, Poggensee L, Gonzalez B, Hubbard CC, Vivo A, Cunningham FE, McGregor JC, Gellad WF. Opioid Prescribing by Dentists in the Veterans Health Administration. American journal of preventive medicine. 2022 Mar 24.
Nonopioid analgesics are more effective for most oral pain, but data suggest that dental prescribing of opioids is excessive. This study evaluates the extent to which opioids exceed recommendations and the characteristics associated with opioid overprescribing by Veterans Health Administration dentists.
This was a national cross-sectional study of Veterans' dental visits from 2015 to 2018. Overprescribing was defined per national guidelines as > 120 morphine milligram equivalents (primary outcome). The association of dental visit and patient demographic and medical characteristics was modeled with overprescribing (defined as > 120 morphine milligram equivalents) using Poisson regression with clustering by facility and patient. A secondary analysis assessed opioid prescriptions > 3 days' supply. The dates of analysis were January 2020-May 2021.
Of the 196,595 visits, 28.7% exceeded 120 morphine milligram equivalents. Friday visits and people with chronic oral pain or substance misuse were associated with a higher prevalence of overprescribing. Women, older Veterans, and Black and Latinx Veterans were less likely to be overprescribed than men, younger Veterans, and White Veterans, respectively. Routine dental visits had a higher prevalence of opioid overprescribing than invasive visits. Opioid overprescribing decreased over time. White Veterans were more likely to receive oxycodone and hydrocodone, whereas people of Black race and Latinx ethnicity were more likely to receive codeine and tramadol. In the secondary analysis, 68.5% of opioid prescriptions exceeded a 3-day supply.
Nearly 1 in 3 opioids prescribed by Veterans Health Administration dentists exceed guidelines. Prescribing higher potency and quantities of opioids, especially on Fridays and to certain demographic groups, should be addressed as part of dental opioid stewardship programs.