Opioid-related emergency department visits in the Texas Medicaid population



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Prescription drug abuse, in particular prescription opioid abuse is a public health concern. One measurement of the effects of prescription opioids is the number of patients visiting the emergency departments (ED) with opioid-related problems. Knowing more about the patients who visit the ED with opioid-related problems may assist in addressing this problem.
This study examined hospital and prescription claims of Texas Medicaid enrollees from 2008 to 2011 to determine whether demographic factors could help predict the opioid prescription history of the ED patients. Age, sex and race/ethnicity were used as demographic predictors. A patient’s prescriptive history was categorized as a non-prescribed user, a short-term user, or a long-term user based on Texas Medicaid prescription claims. Of the 1001 Texas Medicaid enrollees in our dataset who had a claim for an opioid-related ED visit, 622 were classified as non-prescribed users, 65 were short-term users, and 314 were long-term users. Our ordinal logistic regression model was a poor model for predicting prescriptive history. This study does suggest that the number of opioid-related ED visits in the Texas Medicaid population is increasing. The majority of Texas Medicaid enrollees in our study were classified as non-prescribed users. Focused efforts to address the growing problem of opioid-related ED visits cannot be limited to the patients being with claims for opioid prescriptions.