, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 353-359
Date: 03 Oct 2012

The Development of the Washington State Emergency Department Opioid Prescribing Guidelines

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic due to the recent dramatic increase in prescription drug overdose deaths. In addition to an increase in overdose deaths involving opioid analgesics, there has also been an increase in substance abuse treatment admissions and an increase in emergency department (ED) visits for nonmedical use of opioid analgesics [1]. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, the estimated number of ED visits for nonmedical use of opioid analgesics more than doubled from 2004 to 2008 (from 144,600 to 305,900 visits) [2]. Although quantifying the amount of opioids prescribed from an ED in comparison to other specialties has been a challenge, data from the 2003–2004 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey suggest that the ED accounts for 39 % of opioid administration or medical record prescription mentions compared with 30.5 % for pri