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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Emergency Room Doctors Narcotic Headache Treatment

English: National Naval Medical Center, Bethes...
People often seek a doctor's help for headaches at emergency rooms around the country. What's surprising is that emergency room doctors typically will prescribe narcotic pain medications in such cases, against the advice of a number of medical groups, according to a new study.

The groups, including the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Neurology, say narcotics should not be the first drugs that doctors turn to for headache remedies, HealthDay reports.


The report found that between 2001 and 2010, there was no increase in ER prescriptions for non-narcotic pain relievers such as acetaminophen or triptans (drugs used to treat migraines) for headache patients, but there was a 65 percent increase in emergency room doctors prescribing narcotic medications for headaches. One might assume that the most common narcotic prescribed for headaches would be Vicodin (hydrocodone), but that assumption would be incorrect. Doctors most commonly will prescribe Dilaudid (hydromorphone) and OxyContin (oxycodone) for headaches, two powerful highly addictive opioid medications.

“These findings are particularly concerning given the magnitude of increase in [narcotic painkiller] prescribing compared to the other non-addictive medications, whose use remained the same or declined,” lead investigator Dr. Maryann Mazer-Amirshahi of George Washington University said in a news release.

Dr. Jeanmarie Perrone of the University of Pennsylvania, study co-researcher, pointed out that there may be a number of factors contributing to the increase in opioid use for headaches, such as:
  • Regulatory Requirements
  • Increased Focus on Pain Management
  • Patient Satisfaction

The findings were presented at the American College of Medical Toxicology annual meeting.

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