Prescription of Opioid Analgesics for Nontraumatic Dental Conditions in Emergency Departments

Document Type




Format of Original

6 p.

Publication Date



Elsevier Ireland Ltd/American Association of Critical-Care Nurses

Source Publication

Drug and Alcohol Dependence

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.09.023, PubMed Central: PMID: 26471416


BACKGROUND: Opioid analgesics prescribed for nontraumatic dental conditions (NTDCs) by emergency physicians continue to receive attention because of the associated potential for misuse, abuse and addiction. This study examined rates of prescription of opioid analgesics and types of opioid analgesics prescribed for NTDC visits in U.S. emergency departments.

METHODS: Data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 2007 to 2010 were analyzed. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression analysis were performed and adjusted for the survey design.

RESULTS: NTDCs made up 1.7% of all ED visits from 2007 to 2010. The prescription of opioid analgesics was 50.3% for NTDC and 14.8% for non-NTDC visits. The overall rate of opioid analgesics prescribed for NTDCs remained fairly stable from 2007 through 2010. Prescription of opioids was highest among patients aged 19-33 years (56.8%), self-paying (57.1%), and non-Hispanic Whites (53.2%). The probability of being prescribed hydrocodone was highest among uninsured patients (68.7%) and for oxycodone, it was highest among private insurance patients (33.6%). Compared to 34-52 year olds, children 0-4 years were significantly more likely to be prescribed codeine and less likely to be prescribed oxycodone. Compared to non-Hispanic Whites, non-Hispanic Blacks had significantly higher odds of been prescribed codeine and somewhat lower odds of been prescribed oxycodone, but it was not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS: There was no significant change in the rates of opioid analgesics prescribed over time for NTDC visits to EDs. Age, payer type and race/ethnicity were significant predictors for the prescription of different opioid analgesics by emergency physicians for NTDC visits.


American Journal of Critical Care, Vol. 156 (November 2015): 261-266. DOI.