Differences Within Practices in Opioid-Prescribing Patterns of Orthopedic Surgeons and in Subsequent Rates of Chronic Opioid Use, 2012–2014

  • Dan P. LyEmail author
Concise Research Reports


Chronic opioid use, to which physician opioid-prescribing behavior may contribute, is associated with overdose and death.1, 2 Prior research has found that higher opioid-prescribing intensity among physicians in the same emergency department is associated with greater chronic opioid use.3 Whether a similar relationship holds for surgeons within the same practice for common outpatient surgical procedures, such as arthroscopic meniscectomies, is unknown.


I performed analyses using 2011–2014 claims data for a random 20% sample of Medicare beneficiaries. I identified arthroscopic meniscectomies performed on beneficiaries aged 65 and over who were continuously enrolled in Medicare Parts A, B, and D for at least 6 months before the procedure and at least 12 months after who did not have a hospice claim or cancer diagnosis during this time interval.3Consistent with prior literature on surgical patients, I excluded patients with 7 or more days of opioids supplied in the...


opioids orthopedic surgery chronic opioid use 



The author wishes to thank Samantha L. Burn for helpful comments on the paper.


This work was supported by the National Institute on Aging (Grant F32 AG060650-01).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that he does not have a conflict of interest.


No funding source played a role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication. Dan P. Ly had full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.


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    Carey CM, Jena AB, Barnett ML. Patterns of potential opioid misuse and subsequent adverse outcomes in Medicare, 2008 to 2012. Ann Intern Med. 2018;168:837–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Department of Health and Human Services Behavioral Health Coordinating Committee. Addressing prescription drug abuse in the United States: current activities and future opportunities. 2014. Accessed at on 12 October 2018.
  3. 3.
    Barnett ML, Olenski AR, Jena AB. Opioid-prescribing patterns of emergency physicians and risk of long-term use. N Eng J Med. 2017;376:663–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Brat GA, Agniel D, Beam A, Yorkgitis B, Bicket M, Homer M, et al. Postsurgical prescriptions for opioid naïve patients and association with overdose and misuse: retrospective cohort study. BMJ. 2018;360:j5790.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Interfaculty Initiative in Health PolicyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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