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Older adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) who were prescribed opiates had a greater incidence of hospitalization than those who had not been prescribed opiates in the previous month, a recent study of Medicare patients found.

The study entitled “Association of Opiate Use and COPD Exacerbation: A Cohort Analysis Among Older Adult Beneficiaries Within a Medicare Advantage Plan,” was published in the May issue of the Annals of Long-Term Care.

In the retrospective cohort study, researchers from PharmD and the University of Houston reviewed electronic health care records of 1,742 beneficiaries older than 65 of a Medicare Advantage plan in Texas.

Researchers concluded that “patients who had COPD and were prescribed opioids had a 5% probability of being hospitalized within 30 days due to associated exacerbations.” In addition, those who were hospitalized within 30 days of incident opioid use had significantly higher costs than those who did not.

“Our research does provide evidence that there is an impact of opioid use and reciprocal hospitalization on the cost of care and resource utilization,” the study’s authors wrote. “The result indicates that such patients should be closely monitored for proper opioid use in addition to COPD management.

Patients with COPD use more pain medications and healthcare services compared to patients without COPD, according to the study.