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      Increased frequency of urine drug testing in chronic opioid therapy: rationale for strategies for enhancing patient adherence and safety

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          To determine the average amount of time required to detect opioid aberrancy based upon varying frequencies of urine drug testing (UDT) in a community-based, tertiary care pain management center.


          This study was a retrospective analysis of 513 consecutive patients enrolled in a medication management program, receiving chronic opioid therapy between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018.


          Data were extracted from medical records including age at start of the study period, sex, ethnicity, marital status, and smoking status. UDT was performed at each prescribing visit via semi-quantitative immunoassay, and at the discretion of the clinician, a sample was sent for external confirmation using gas chromatography or mass spectrometry testing to clarify questions of inconsistency with patients’ reports or prescribed medications. For purposes of the study, “opioid aberrancy” was defined through inconsistent UDT.


          One hundred and fifteen patients (22.4%) had at least one inconsistent UDT during the study period, and 160 (2.8%) of all UDTs were inconsistent. At this rate of inconsistency, it was determined that with monthly screening, it would require up to 36 months to detect a single aberrancy, and semi-annual testing would require as long as 216 months to detect an aberrancy.


          More frequent UDT can be helpful in terms of earlier detection of opioid aberrancy. This has significant implications for helping avoid misuse, overdose, and potential diversion. Furthermore, early detection will ideally result in earlier implementation of treatment of the emotional and behavioral factors causing aberrancy. Such early intervention is more likely to be successful in terms of reducing substance misuse in a chronic pain population, providing a higher degree of patient adherence and safety, as well as producing superior overall patient outcomes. Finally, economic benefits may include substantial savings through avoidance of the necessity for drug rehabilitation and the empirically established higher costs of treating opioid misuse comorbidities.

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          Most cited references 40

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          Rates of opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction in chronic pain: a systematic review and data synthesis.

          Opioid use in chronic pain treatment is complex, as patients may derive both benefit and harm. Identification of individuals currently using opioids in a problematic way is important given the substantial recent increases in prescription rates and consequent increases in morbidity and mortality. The present review provides updated and expanded information regarding rates of problematic opioid use in chronic pain. Because previous reviews have indicated substantial variability in this literature, several steps were taken to enhance precision and utility. First, problematic use was coded using explicitly defined terms, referring to different patterns of use (ie, misuse, abuse, and addiction). Second, average prevalence rates were calculated and weighted by sample size and study quality. Third, the influence of differences in study methodology was examined. In total, data from 38 studies were included. Rates of problematic use were quite broad, ranging from <1% to 81% across studies. Across most calculations, rates of misuse averaged between 21% and 29% (range, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 13%-38%). Rates of addiction averaged between 8% and 12% (range, 95% CI: 3%-17%). Abuse was reported in only a single study. Only 1 difference emerged when study methods were examined, where rates of addiction were lower in studies that identified prevalence assessment as a primary, rather than secondary, objective. Although significant variability remains in this literature, this review provides guidance regarding possible average rates of opioid misuse and addiction and also highlights areas in need of further clarification.
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            Societal costs of prescription opioid abuse, dependence, and misuse in the United States.

            The objective of this study was to estimate the societal costs of prescription opioid abuse, dependence, and misuse in the United States. Costs were grouped into three categories: health care, workplace, and criminal justice. Costs were estimated by 1) quantity method, which multiplies the number of opioid abuse patients by cost per opioid abuse patient; and 2) apportionment method, which begins with overall costs of drug abuse per component and apportions the share associated with prescription opioid abuse based on relative prevalence of prescription opioid to overall drug abuse. Excess health care costs per patient were based on claims data analysis of privately insured and Medicaid beneficiaries. Other data/information were derived from publicly available survey and other secondary sources. Total US societal costs of prescription opioid abuse were estimated at $55.7 billion in 2007 (USD in 2009). Workplace costs accounted for $25.6 billion (46%), health care costs accounted for $25.0 billion (45%), and criminal justice costs accounted for $5.1 billion (9%). Workplace costs were driven by lost earnings from premature death ($11.2 billion) and reduced compensation/lost employment ($7.9 billion). Health care costs consisted primarily of excess medical and prescription costs ($23.7 billion). Criminal justice costs were largely comprised of correctional facility ($2.3 billion) and police costs ($1.5 billion).   The costs of prescription opioid abuse represent a substantial and growing economic burden for the society. The increasing prevalence of abuse suggests an even greater societal burden in the future. Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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              Universal precautions in pain medicine: a rational approach to the treatment of chronic pain.

              The heightened interest in pain management is making the need for appropriate boundary setting within the clinician-patient relationship even more apparent. Unfortunately, it is impossible to determine before hand, with any degree of certainty, who will become problematic users of prescription medications. With this in mind, a parallel is drawn between the chronic pain management paradigm and our past experience with problems identifying the "at-risk" individuals from an infectious disease model. By recognizing the need to carefully assess all patients, in a biopsychosocial model, including past and present aberrant behaviors when they exist, and by applying careful and reasonably set limits in the clinician-patient relationship, it is possible to triage chronic pain patients into three categories according to risk. This article describes a "universal precautions" approach to the assessment and ongoing management of the chronic pain patient and offers a triage scheme for estimating risk that includes recommendations for management and referral. By taking a thorough and respectful approach to patient assessment and management within chronic pain treatment, stigma can be reduced, patient care improved, and overall risk contained.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                23 July 2019
                : 12
                : 2239-2246
                [1 ]Research and Network Development, Boston PainCare , Waltham, MA, USA
                [2 ]Department of Diagnostic Sciences, Tufts School of Dental Medicine , Boston, MA, USA
                [3 ]Deparment of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts School of Medicine , Boston, MA, USA
                [4 ]Department of Biopsychology, Tufts University , Medford, MA, USA
                [5 ]Department of Anesthesia Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital , Boston, MA, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Michael E SchatmanResearch and Network Development, Boston PainCare , 85 First Avenue, Waltham, MA02451, USATel +1 425 647 4880Email Michael.Schatman@ 123456tufts.edu
                © 2019 DiBenedetto et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Tables: 2, References: 45, Pages: 8
                Original Research

                Anesthesiology & Pain management

                urine drug testing, frequency, opioid safety, economic benefits


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