Physicians more likely to prescribe opioids later in the day, new study finds

Physicians were more likely to prescribe opioids later in the day and when appointments were running behind schedule, according to a study published in JAMA cited by STAT.

The study, published Aug. 20, analyzed claims and electronic health data for 678,319 patients with new pain who saw 5,603 physicians at health care clinics in 2017. The patients' complaints included back pain, headaches and joint aches.

The study found that physicians were 33 percent more likely to prescribe opioids later in the day and 17 percent more likely to do so if they were running behind schedule, STAT reported. Prescriptions for NSAIDs and physical therapy remained constant throughout the day.

Overall, 4,459 prescriptions would not have been written in 2017 if physicians' prescribing practices remained constant throughout the day, the study found.

The change in prescribing habits throughout the day is likely due in part to pressure on physicians to increase the volume of patients they see daily and non-opioid pain treatments typically require longer conversations than simply prescribing opioids, according to the report.

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