HealthDay News — Opioid prescribing among dermatologists is limited, with most of the top prescribing dermatologists working in surgical practice, according to a study published online in JAMA Dermatology.

Severine Cao, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues characterized the current status and potential complications of opioid prescribing practices among dermatologists using Medicare Part D prescriber data. Data were included for 12,537 dermatologists: 42.3% of them prescribed no opioid claims; 43.1% prescribed 1 to 10 opioid claims; and 14.5% prescribed more than 10 claims.

They researchers conducted a systematic literature review to estimate the outcomes of prescribing practices on the exposed population.

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The researchers found that among dermatologists prescribing at least 10 opioid claims, each beneficiary was given a mean of 1 opioid claim, with a mean supply lasting 4.4 days. Overall, 93.9% of the top 1% of opioid prescribers (n = 115) worked in a surgical practice.

Estimates suggested that opioids prescribed by dermatologists could lead to 3877 to 7602 and 1825 to 4209 beneficiaries continuing to use opioids at 1 and 3 years, respectively. Overall, 9882 to 22,806 beneficiaries could experience gastrointestinal tract or central nervous system adverse events, and fractures could be experienced by 588 to 999.

“Opioid prescribing among dermatologists is limited and concentrated in the surgical setting, but it may be associated with a substantial number of adverse events,” the authors write.

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Cao S, Karmouta R, Li DG, et al. Opioid prescribing patterns and complications in the dermatology Medicare population [published online February 7, 2018]. JAMA Dermatol. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.5835