One-quarter of adults with sprained ankles were prescribed opioids in the ER

About 25% of patients who visited emergency departments (EDs) with sprained ankles from 2011 to 2015 were prescribed opioids, according to a study in the <i>Annals of Emergency Medicine</i>. The review of more than 30,000 private insurance claims also found that ED prescriptions can affect long-term opioid use.

About 25% of patients who visited emergency departments (EDs) with sprained ankles from 2011 to 2015 were prescribed opioids, according to a study in the <i>Annals of Emergency Medicine</i>. The review of more than 30,000 private insurance claims also found that ED prescriptions can affect long-term opioid use. According to the data, the median prescription for drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, or tramadol was 15 tablets, or enough for 3 days. Overall, 5% of the patients who initially received 30 tablets or more had prolonged use of opioids, compared with just 1.1% of those prescribed 10 tablets or less. Opioid prescribing declined over the 4 years of the study period, as awareness of the opioid epidemic increased. The researchers examined sprained ankles because they are minor injuries "that most of us agree is something we would not give someone opioids for," said study author Kit Delgado of the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine. The study also revealed wide variation between states in the use of opioids for ankle sprains, ranging from 40% in Arkansas to 2.8% in North Dakota.