Hospitalized Seniors on Opioids More Likely to Experience Other Health Problems

Seniors that received opioids while hospitalized for nonsurgical conditions for a long period were much more likely to experience other health issues compared to others that didn’t receive the powerful painkillers.

These negative outcomes included being twice as likely to be restrained; being unable to eat; having bladder catheters; and ordered to bed rest, researchers reported at the recent American Geriatrics Society meeting.

Senior patients on opioids also had a 50% longer average hospital stay and were more likely to be readmitted compared to peers that didn’t receive the medication.

Researchers came to these conclusions after analyzing data on more than 10,000 seniors aged 65 and hospitalized over a year at a medical center in New York. A little more than 29% received opioids during their hospital stay. And of those who did, nearly 84% had never received an opioid before.

Study investigators agreed that non-pharmaceutical pain management options, such as acupuncture, tai chi, heat therapy and exercise should be used more often in a hospital setting.

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is a freelance writer and former MedShadow content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

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