The use of opioid analgesics in pediatric patients treated in the emergency department (ED) increased significantly over the past decade, especially among adolescents, according to data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Overall use of the opioids increased from 11.2% of pain-related visits in 2001 to 14.5% of visits in 2010.
Historically, pain in children has been undertreated. Recent efforts to identify and treat pain in pediatric ED patients have led to increases in the use of opioid prescriptions. Meanwhile, surveys show prescription analgesics are the second most commonly abused drug by adolescents after marijuana.
The authors of this study analyzed national data to determine trends in opioid prescribing among pediatric patients over a 10-year period. They looked at pain-related visits by patients younger than 19 years of age who received five...