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Opioid Prescriptions Remain Common for Teens and Young Adults


Using a large national dataset, researchers examined opioid prescribing patterns for teens and young adults in emergency departments and outpatient clinics over an 11-year period. “Trends in Opioid Prescribing for Adolescents and Young Adults in Ambulatory Care Settings,” appearing in the June 2019 issue of Pediatrics (published online May 28) looked at reasons for visits and how they related to opioid prescribing. More than 78,000 teens and young adults visited an emergency room or outpatient clinic during the study period. Out of those patients, nearly 15% of emergency department visits ended with an opioid prescription, while outpatient clinic visits averaged a 3% prescribing rate. Visits for dental disorders resulted in an opioid prescription in almost 60% of visits for both teens and young adults, while approximately half of teen patients with a collarbone fracture were prescribed an opioid. The authors conclude that these findings can help guide initiatives designed to reduce excessive opioid prescribing, especially as research continues to further define and address the opioid epidemic in this high-risk population. 

Editor’s note: A related commentary, “Opioids and the Urgent Need to Focus on the Health Care of Young Adults,” will also be published in this issue of Pediatrics


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds