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QuickStats: Percentage of Emergency Department Visits That Had an Opioid* Ordered or Prescribed, by Age Group — National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, United States, 2006–2015


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:  During 2006–2010, the percentage of emergency department (ED) visits that had an opioid ordered or prescribed increased among visits involving persons aged 18–44 years (from 34.3% to 39.3%) and 45–64 years (from 33.2% to 38.3%). However, during 2010–2015, the percentage decreased among visits for those aged 18–44 years (32.7% in 2015) and 45–64 years (35.2% in 2015). Throughout 2006–2015, the percentage decreased among visits for persons aged 0–17 years (from 9.5% in 2006 to 5.7% in 2015), remained stable among visits for those aged ≥65 years, and was highest among visits for those aged 18–44 and 45–64 years.

* Defined as any natural opioid (e.g., codeine or morphine), semisynthetic opioid (e.g., hydrocodone, hydromorphone, or oxycodone), or synthetic opioid (e.g., fentanyl, methadone, or tramadol) analgesic (https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/analysis.html). Heroin was not included because it is not approved for prescription in the United States. During 2006–2011, up to eight medications could be listed in the survey; therefore, analysis of data for the period 2012–2015 was also limited to eight medications.

Based on a sample of visits to emergency departments in noninstitutional general and short-stay hospitals, exclusive of federal, military, and Veterans Administration hospitals, located in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

During 2006–2010, the percentage of emergency department (ED) visits that had an opioid ordered or prescribed increased among visits involving persons aged 18–44 years (from 34.3% to 39.3%) and 45–64 years (from 33.2% to 38.3%). However, during 2010–2015, the percentage decreased among visits for those aged 18–44 years (32.7% in 2015) and 45–64 years (35.2% in 2015). Throughout 2006–2015, the percentage decreased among visits for persons aged 0–17 years (from 9.5% in 2006 to 5.7% in 2015), remained stable among visits for those aged ≥65 years, and was highest among visits for those aged 18–44 and 45–64 years.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics. National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, 2006–2015. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/ahcd/ahcd_questionnaires.htm.


Reported by: Kari Yacisin, MD, kyacisin@cdc.gov, 301-458-4211; Kathleen S. O’Connor, MPH; Akintunde Akinseye.

For more information on this topic, CDC recommends the following link: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/prescribing/guideline.html.

Suggested citation for this article: QuickStats: Percentage of Emergency Department Visits That Had an Opioid Ordered or Prescribed, by Age Group — National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, United States, 2006–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:344. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6711a8.

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