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Solanki PA, Hubbard CC, Poggensee L, Evans CT, Suda KJ. Adverse outcomes associated with opioid prescription by dentists in the Veterans Health Administration: A national cross-sectional study from 2015 to 2018. Journal of public health dentistry. 2023 Feb 17.
OBJECTIVES: Opioids prescribed by dentists have been associated with serious adverse events, including opioid-related overdose and mortality. However, the downstream outcomes of opioids prescribed by dentists to Veterans who are at high risk for opioid misuse and overdose have yet to be determined. METHODS: This was a national cross-sectional analysis of opioids associated with dental visits within the Veterans Health Administration from 2015 to 2018. Overprescribing was defined per guidelines as > 120 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) or > 3?days supply. The association of dental visit and patient characteristics was modeled separately for opioid-related poisoning and all-cause mortality using logistic regression. RESULTS: Of 137,273 Veterans prescribed an opioid by a dentist, 0.1% and 1.1% were associated with opioid-related poisoning and mortality, respectively. There was no difference in opioid poisoning within 6 months for Veterans with opioid prescriptions > 120?MME (aOR = 1.25 [CI: 0.89-1.78]), but poisoning decreased in Veterans prescribed opioids > 3-days supply (aOR = 0.68 [CI: 0.49-0.96]). However, Veterans with opioids > 120?MME were associated with higher odds of mortality within 6 months (aOR = 1.17 [95% CI: 1.05-1.32]) while there was no difference in prescriptions > 3-days supply (aOR = 1.12 [CI: 0.99-1.25]). CONCLUSION: Serious opioid-related adverse events were rare in Veterans and lower than other reports in the literature. Since nonopioid analgesics have superior efficacy for the treatment of acute dental pain, prescribing opioid alternatives may decrease opioid-related poisoning. Strategies for dentists to identify patients at high risk should be incorporated into the dental record.