“Instead of setting an arbitrary border between “normal patients” and “doctor shoppers,” researchers Carlson and McDonald decided to “let the data sort itself out.” Turns out, the data formed three piles.
The largest group of patients received opioids prescriptions from only one prescriber over a relatively short period of time. Presumably, these patients had acute conditions that required a short stint of opioids to treat their pain. On the other hand, it was not unusual for a patient to receive opioids from up to four different prescribers over a longer period of time. Members of this second group, the researchers supposed, may have had chronic conditions being treated by multiple physicians.
The third group looked very different than the first two. Although the smallest in number (only 135,000 people or 0.7 percent of patients with opioid prescriptions), these patients obtained almost two percent of the total opioid prescriptions and four percent of the total amount of opioids measured by weight. Members of the third group averaged 10 different prescribers in a 10-month period. McDonald and Carlson concluded that members of this “extreme” group could be categorized as doctor shoppers.”
Source: ireta.org – May 7, 2015