Opioids for pain management in pediatric patients are sometimes necessary but their use has raised concerns about the effects of opioids and later abuse.
This analysis examined opioid prescribing rates using information from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 2006 to 2015 on more than 69,000 emergency department visits for patients younger than 18. Prescribing rates decreased from 8.2 percent in 2006-2010 to 6.3 percent in 2011-2015. Prescribing seemed to vary by region of the country, race, age and payment. For example, opioid prescribing rates were higher in the West; white patients and patients 13 to 17 were more likely to get prescriptions; and patients using Medicaid were less likely to get opioid prescriptions. The results of this observational study suggest inconsistencies in opioid prescribing requiring further research.