More than half of privately insured kids getting tonsils removed receive opioids

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Children with private insurance undergoing tonsillectomies often receive opioids, with an average prescription of six to 10 days, according to a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Researchers from Ann Arbor-based Michigan Medicine examined 2016-2017 national data from a private insurance database.

They found that of 15,793 privately insured children undergoing tonsil removal, 60 percent of them received opioids.

This goes against guidelines from the American Academy of Otolaryngology, which urges the use of nonopioids, such as ibuprofen.

Researchers also found that having a filled opioid prescription wasn't linked to a change in the likelihood of return visits for pain or dehydration. But it was associated with an increased risk of constipation. In one case there was an opioid overdose.

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