A collaboration involving Drs. Dan Tomaszewski and Sun Yang led to the publication of Trends in Opioid Use in Pediatric Patients in US Emergency Departments from 2006 to 2015 in the JAMA Network Open.  Investigators sought to answer how opioid use in pediatric patients has changed over the past 10 years and to characterize factors associated with differences in opioid use during this time period.

The results of our study showed that the overall use and prescribing of opioid pain medications in Emergency Departments (EDs) to patients under the age of 18 has decreased in recent years, following a trend of increased use prior to 2011.  Although this is good news overall, the study results also pointed out some inconsistencies in prescribing trends that have persisted.  One inconsistency being evaluated further is the significant difference in opioid prescribing when comparing white patients to non-white patients, with white patients being 34% more likely to be prescribed an opioid compared to non-white patients.  Additionally, the high rates of opioid use in conditions like back pain (20.99% of visits), headaches (16.57% of visits), and abdominal pain (15.01% of visits) raise concerns.  The research team’s future projects aim to better assess these inconsistencies and others to aid practitioners in means to optimize pain management in the pediatric population. The research was funded by a Kay Family Foundation grant.  The full article can be located at:  https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2719135