ED Providers Show “Fair Agreement” in Identifying Drug-Seeking Behavior

July 17, 2013 | Strategic Insights for Health System


Emergency department (ED) providers were able to identify drug-seeking behavior fairly consistently with objective criteria but were unlikely to change the care they provided based on this information, according to a study published online July 9, 2013, in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Every patient who came to one of two hospital EDs during an 18-month period with a primary complaint of back pain, dental pain, or headache was assessed for drug-seeking behavior subjectively by 38 ED providers and objectively by study-defined criteria (i.e., having four or more opioid prescriptions from four or more providers during the preceding 12 months). A total of 544 patient visits were included in the study; ED providers had “fair” agreement between their subjective evaluations and the study-defined criteria, with 63% sensitivity, 73% specificity, and 41% positive predictive value.

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