On January 20th, the Cincinnati Enquirer ran a story on the recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed a 30.1 percent drop in prescription opioid volume from 2010 – 2011 to 2016 – 2017. While the CDC report was non‐judgmental, it was greeted by hospital administrators and emergency physicians in the Cincinnati area as good news.
The article quotes one physician/hospital spokesperson as saying:
“The patient can know, ‘My encounter with the ED will … lead to a good outcome. I will not be exposed to unnecessary threats … downstream.’
“They will treat the pain in a safe way.”
I was interviewed for the story and shared with the reporter my experiences as a general surgeon seeing patients referred from emergency departments in excruciating pain who were given minimal pain medication — sometimes just Tylenol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen — for conditions needing urgent surgical intervention. I told reporter Terry DeMio “It means a lot of people are getting under‐treated for pain.”