Where a doctor graduated from medical school could determine how many opioids they prescribe. Physicians who work in the US who completed their training at a higher-ranked medical school wrote fewer opioid prescriptions every year when compared to those who graduated from a lesser-ranked school. This is even the case with doctors who work in the same speciality and even in the same country. America is currently experiencing an opioid epidemic and this new finding could shed some light on the issue as well as suggesting ways in which this crisis could be stopped in its tracks. The paper does come with a lot of limitations and these have not been reviewed by any peers yet, and it is plausible that the study has overstated the difference in the prescription of opioids.
The researcher looked at the opioid prescriptions for the year and they also looked at where the doctors finished medical school. The findings were then compared against the “Best Medical School Research Rankings”. Harvard for example wrote on average 180 prescriptions every year for opioids but those who came from some of the lowest ranked schools prescribed on average 550 every year.
The study also shows that those who have trained in regions outside of the US have filled out significantly fewer prescriptions per year when compared to those who were trained in the US. This is a huge difference and this also hints the way that the doctors are trained could influence whether or not they choose to prescribe opioids.
One problem with the study is that they don’t have any data on how many patients the doctors served. They only took data from how much they prescribed. In other words, the doctors that came from a lower ranked school could actually have seen more patients and for this reason, they had to prescribe more opioids. When you compare the doctors that are in the same countries, you will also find that there is a lot of variations with this. For example, you have community clinics and you also have Medicaid clinics. On top of this, you have private practices, and this could essentially mean that there are patient variations as well even though the doctors work in the same speciality.
The author of the paper has stated that there is no way to find out how many patients a physician has seen. The researchers also didn’t take into account the data from all ZIP codes that have teaching hospitals. They said that they did this because it is more common for top doctors to move into research and teachings, so this could eliminate those who do not have many prescriptions. That being said, and even with this research being taken into account, you’ll still find that there is a definite similarity between rank and prescribing. When you look at the data for the prescriptions, you’ll find that 91 Americans die every single day from an opioid overdose, and half of them are down to legal prescriptions. This can include Oxycodone or Hydrocodone. In the last month, the US Food and Drug department have stated that they are going to expand their requirements on opioid manufacturers so they can limit the amount that is prescribed as well as making sure that everything is done to try and give people a better idea of what these medications should be used for.
This is certainly interesting to say the least, and even though opioids are incredibly safe to use in moderation, that doesn’t mean to say that you won’t experience any effects if you do take more than you have been prescribed.