Opioids Prescribed to Adults at Discharge From Emergency Departments: United States, 2017-2020

NCHS Data Brief. 2023 Jan;(461):1-8.


Opioids may be an effective treatment for chronic and acute pain when properly used (1). However, receiving an opioid prescription in the emergency department (ED) has been identified as a potential risk factor for long-term use (2). Between 2010-2011 and 2016-2017, the percentage of opioids prescribed at ED discharge decreased from 21.5% to 14.6% (3,4). This report provides more recent changes in rates and percentages of opioids prescribed to adults (aged 18 and over) at discharge from the ED by patient and visit characteristics through 2020, using data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid* / therapeutic use
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • United States


  • Analgesics, Opioid