The youngest and the oldest patients who arrive at emergency departments (EDs) are unlikely to receive a narcotic analgesic for a broken clavicle, according to a retrospective analysis of 7,199 ED visits over nine years from Morristown Memorial Hospital in New Jersey.
Overall, opiate prescriptions were issued to few patients—and only 18% of patients from birth to three years of age and 25% of patients 70 years of age and older received them. By contrast, 36% to 40% of patients from nine to 69 years of age received prescriptions.
The researchers say that their findings echo those of other studies in which the youngest children were less likely than older children to receive analgesia for various painful events, such as burns, fractures, and sickle-cell crisis. It is possible that the very young and the very old perceive the pain of clavicular fractures differently, but the researchers say that the rationale for withholding narcotics for those patients needs further evaluation.
(Source: Am J Emerg Med 2007)