- Opioids are linked to more medication-related liability claims than any other drug, according to a new report by Boston-based medical liability insurer Coverys.
- The firm analyzed more than 10,000 closed liability claims from 2012 to 2016 and found 24% involved opioids. The next largest category was anticoagulant drugs, at 16%.
- Of the opioid-related claims, close to half (46%) involved primary care prescribers, while 15% alleged that the doctor acted inappropriately toward the patient seeking the drug.
Other key findings from the study include:
- Opioid-related claims stem more often from office/clinic visits (78%) than the emergency department or operating room (22%).
- Medication monitoring and management is the phase where most errors occur (35%).
- Nearly four in 10 medication error cases (38%) involve a patient death.
With the opioid crisis continuing across the U.S., this issue of medication errors and inadequate monitoring of patients using opioids is concerning.
Between 2000 and 2015, the rate of opioid-related deaths increased from three per 100,000 to 10 per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid-related deaths in 2015 alone exceeded 33,000.
While President Barack Obama took steps to tackle the problem, such as signing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act to expand naloxone availability and boost prescription drug monitoring programs, President Donald Trump still has yet to issue the opioid crisis a formal public health emergency, an issue he raised in August. Various reports on Monday stated he will declare a national emergency over the opioid crisis next week.
Under Trump's fiscal year 2018 budget proposal, funding for federal drug prevention programs would be cut by about 11%, including $1.3 billion for the CDC and $5.7 billion for the National Institutes of Health.
Insurers have footed the bulk of the bill, covering $26 billion of the $28 billion in healthcare spending on opioids in 2013, according to a study published last year in the journal Medical Care. Another study concluded that private payers spent more than $445 million on opioid abuse and dependence disorders in 2015.
In June, Connecticut lawmakers passed legislation aimed at reining in the state’s opioid abuse crisis. Among other things, the measure would require healthcare providers to inform patients of opioid risks and mandate electronic prescribing for all opioids.