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Pain Medicine Study Suggests More Physician Monitoring of Dosage Is Needed

A new study by San Antonio scientists suggests doctors should monitor their patients’ total intake of opioids more carefully to reduce their risk for overdose.

Dr. Barbara Turner, Director of Center for Research to Advance Community Health (REACH) at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio said the study indicates risk of overdose builds over time.

The study found that even at low doses, the length of time a patient takes drugs such as morphine and hydrocodone can put them in danger.

“We looked over a six-month period of time and found that if they’re getting an even lower dose, which is very common, from 50 to 99 milligrams of morphine a day, and the total dose is above about 1,900, then that person is at the same risk as someone who is at a really high dose,” Turner said.

The study suggests more patients should seek non-drug treatments to manage chronic pain such as massage, yoga, or acupuncture.

“The problem is that most people have limited to access to them because those treatments are not covered by insurance,” she said.

Turner said the study among more than 200,000 patients found about 1,400 overdoses.

The study is published in a recent issue of The Journal of Pain.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.