Patients receive most opioids at the doctor’s office, not the ER

Around the country, state legislatures and hospitals have tightened emergency room prescribing guidelines for opioids to curb the addiction epidemic, but a new USC study shows that approach diverts attention from the main sources of prescription painkillers.

Overall opioid prescribing skyrocketed 471 percent from 1996 to 2012, according to the study by USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics and Keck School of Medicine of USC.

The share of opioids prescribed from emergency departments was small and declined during that 17-year period from 7.4 percent to 4.4 percent. The share of opioids prescribed from doctor’s offices was much larger and actually increased during that period from 71 percent to 83 percent.

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