New University of Minnesota Medical School research finds postpartum women are generally getting prescribed more narcotics than they need.
Are postpartum women getting prescribed more narcotics than necessary?
The study, co-authored by Cresta Jones, MD, FACOG, who is an associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health, was published in American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology MFM. Designed to evaluate what is being done to treat women’s pain after delivery in different types of hospitals across the country, the study looked at what medications are being prescribed, how much of those medications are being prescribed and if there are differences between hospitals, as well as between providers within those hospitals.
There’s a huge opportunity for improving patient care after deliveries
Dr. Jones found that there is a huge opportunity for improving patient care after deliveries. Her research showed very apparent, regional differences for what is being prescribed and how much of those medications are being prescribed. However, despite those differences, she found that there is a general trend among all hospitals of patients being prescribed more narcotics after delivery than they need, leaving them with excess pills.
“Before we are able to attack the nationwide opioid problem, we need to know where the problem is,” Dr. Jones said. “We need to figure out what is going on in different places throughout the country when it comes to postpartum opioid prescriptions, and then use that information to initiate further research that figures out the appropriate prescription standards for women after delivery.”
Establishing a standard guideline will keep patients and their families safer, suggests Dr Jones
Dr. Jones believes that establishing a standard guideline will keep patients and their families safer.
We know that a small percentage of women who leave the hospital with opioids can go on to develop opioid use disorder. We also know that many individuals who suffer from opioid misuse from prescription pills get them from friends and family. We don’t want to increase that problem, “ said Dr. Cresta Jones, associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health.
A small percentage of women who leave the hospital with opioids can go on to develop opioid use disorder
A standard guideline would allow patients to get the medications they need without putting them and their families in danger of unnecessary opioids.
“Our hope is to eventually adopt a standard guideline for postpartum opioid prescriptions, so we can train the next generation of new learners in the medical field to use the right amount of opioids and keep our patients safe,” Dr. Jones said.
- Traun, K.B.S., et al. (2019) Opioid prescribing trends in postpartum women: a multicenter study. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. doi.org/10.1016/j.ajogmf.2019.100055.
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review, which has been in print since 2005, and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Love is Medicine Project docuseries, The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit, The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10-week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. You can follow Razi on social media: Facebook at Razi Berry, Instagram at Razi.Berry and join the Love is Medicine group to explore the convergence of love and health. Look for more, and listen to more Love is Medicine podcast episodes here.