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    Prescription opioid overprescribing is a focal point for legislators, but little is known about opioid prescribing patterns of primary care nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs). To identify prescription opioid overprescribers by comparing prescribing patterns of primary care physicians (MDs), nurse practitioners (NPs), and physician assistants (PAs). Retrospective, cross-sectional analysis of Medicare Part D enrollee prescription data. Twenty percent national sample of 2015 Medicare Part D enrollees. We identified potential opioid overprescribing as providers who met at least one of the following: (1) prescribed any opioid to > 50% of patients, (2) prescribed ≥ 100 morphine milligram equivalents (MME)/day to > 10% of patients, or (3) prescribed an opioid > 90 days to > 20% of patients. Among 222,689 primary care providers, 3.8% of MDs, 8.0% of NPs, and 9.8% of PAs met at least one definition of overprescribing. 1.3% of MDs, 6.3% of NPs, and 8.8% of PAs prescribed an opioid to at least 50% of patients. NPs/PAs practicing in states with independent prescription authority were > 20 times more likely to overprescribe opioids than NPs/PAs in prescription-restricted states. Most NPs/PAs prescribed opioids in a pattern similar to MDs, but NPs/PAs had more outliers who prescribed high-frequency, high-dose opioids than did MDs. Efforts to reduce opioid overprescribing should include targeted provider education, risk stratification, and state legislation.


    M James Lozada, Mukaila A Raji, James S Goodwin, Yong-Fang Kuo. Opioid Prescribing by Primary Care Providers: a Cross-Sectional Analysis of Nurse Practitioner, Physician Assistant, and Physician Prescribing Patterns. Journal of general internal medicine. 2020 Sep;35(9):2584-2592

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    PMID: 32333312

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