About 75% of patients on dialysis received a prescription for an opioid medication and nearly one-third of them also received prescriptions for benzodiazepines—prescribing patterns that were associated with a substantially increased risk of hospitalization for overdose, according to a study presented at Kidney Week.
More than half of patients on dialysis experience pain, according to a previous study (1), and more than 60% receive a prescription for an opioid medication each year—20% of those received a more than 90-day supply. A growing nationwide opioid overdose epidemic has drawn attention to the potential risks associated with this common class of drugs and led the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to establish guidelines for more judicious prescribing (2). But the safety of this class of drugs hasn’t been well studied in patients on dialysis, said Rupam Ruchi, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Florida.
“We know that pain affects so many of our patients, and it is associated with poor quality of life, increased morbidity, and mortality,” Ruchi said.
Opioid prescription, morbidity, and mortality in United States dialysis patients. Paul L. Kimmel, et al. J Am Soc Nephrol 2017; 28:3658–3670.
Benzodiazepines and Opioids. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/benzodiazepines-opioids
“Opioid and Benzodiazepine Use in Patients on Hemodialysis,” Oral Abstract 095