10 most-read stories on opioids in 2017

The nation's ongoing opioid epidemic produced a bevy of news stories in 2017, including those about rising rates of fentanyl use, new limits on opioid prescriptions and health systems' responses and strategies to fight opioid addiction.

Here are Becker's 10 most-read articles on opioids for 2017, starting with the most popular.

1. Opioid overdose deaths surge among African Americans: 5 things to know

As heroin and fentanyl have contributed to a larger number of opioid-related deaths, the proportion of African-Americans dying from opioid overdoses has increased, according to data released by the CDC in December.

2. More Americans died of drug overdoses in 2016 than in the Vietnam War

Provisional data the CDC released in September suggested more than 64,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2016, which surpasses the 58,200 Americans who died in the Vietnam War and the 50,682 people who died from HIV/AIDS in 1995.

3. Illinois physician traded opioids for cash and sex with patients: 3 things to know

Constantino Perales, MD, of Peru, Ill., pleaded guilty in federal court Dec. 4 to conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.

4. Should opioid addiction be considered a hospital-acquired condition?

Some medical experts and healthcare administrators are making the case that if an individual's addiction to opioids is directly rooted in hospital-based care, the hospital should be penalized.

5. West Virginia cities sue Joint Commission over pain management recommendations

Four West Virginia cities — Ceredo, Charleston, Huntington and Kenova — filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday against The Joint Commission, alleging the healthcare accrediting body issued pain management standards in 2001 that downplayed the deadly and addictive properties of opioids.

6. CVS is now limiting opioid prescriptions

As part of several new measures to curb the rate of opioid addiction and overdoses, CVS Health is enacting seven-day opioid prescription limitations for acute conditions, the company announced Sept. 21.

7. Bon Secours hospital cuts opioid use 80% with surgical recovery program

Richmond, Va.-based Bon Secours St. Mary's Hospital achieved an 80 percent reduction in postoperative opioid use among laparoscopic colorectal surgical patients after implementing a new surgical recovery program.

8. Intermountain to cut opioid prescriptions 40% by end of 2018: 5 things to know

Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare aims to achieve a 40 percent reduction in the number of opioids prescribed for acute pain systemwide by the end of 2018.

9. Opioids in America: 6 things to know about the evolution of an epidemic

The misuse of opiates — heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and fentanyl, among others — represents one of the leading causes of accidental death in the U.S.

10. 3 nurses exposed to fentanyl after treating overdose patient at Ohio hospital

Three nurses at Massillon, Ohio-based Affinity Medical Center fell ill and lost consciousness after treating an overdose patient August 11.

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