Mayo Researchers Finding Solutions for Overprescribing

July 14, 2017 07:51 AM

(ABC 6 News) -- Since 2000, the number of Americans getting an opioid prescription and the number of deaths involving overdoses have roughly quadrupled according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That's why researchers at Mayo Clinic are looking into reducing the number of opioids being prescribed after surgery.


"About 6 percent of general surgery procedures, those patients do become dependent on opioids. So 6 percent may seem small but if we look at the number of surgeries conducted just here at Mayo Clinic in Rochester every year that's a large number of patients," said Elizabeth Habermann, a scientific director for surgical outcomes at Mayo Clinic.

Researchers studied patients who were given opioids for the first time after surgery and found more than four out of five were overprescribed.

The findings released Thursday come from two years worth of data for prescriptions written at Mayo campuses in Rochester, Florida and Arizona.

Meanwhile, Anthony Villerreal says a hospital stay led him to get addicted to opioids after being prescribed pills after a motorcycle accident.

"I was coming out on a turn and I hit a median at about 140 miles an hour and I ended up at the hospital obviously," said Villerreal.  "I remember almost immediately I fell in love with them. They were like these amazing miracle pills that like I think you had described earlier that just made me feel numb."

Villerreal also says he was also amazed at how easy it was to get more pills.

"Surgeons may have trained 5, 10, 20 years ago and not had training on how much to prescribe. So we're hoping that the evidence we've developed will be able to help build guideline development here so that surgeons can have a number to target," said Dr. Habermann.

Researchers will take what they've learned to draft new prescribing guidelines for the state of Minnesota, which could be good for people like Villerreal, who look to doctors for help. 

"Everybody is under the notion that it's safe because the doctor gave it to me," said Villerreal.

The doctor also says you can help the problem by properly disposing of your leftover medications.


Roxanne Elias

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