An estimated 15% of Medicare patients filled a new prescription for an opioid within a week of being discharged from the hospital in 2011, according to a study published yesterday in JAMA Internal Medicine. Four in 10 beneficiaries who filled a prescription within a week of hospital discharge also filled an opioid prescription more than 90 days after discharge. “Although we identified substantial variation across hospitals in new post-discharge opioid use, it is unknown whether this variation reflects differences in appropriate or inappropriate prescribing across hospitals,” the authors said. Hospitals that ranked more highly on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems measure for quality of inpatient pain control had higher rates of new post-discharge opioid use. The AHA recently urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to suspend the pain-related questions in the Value-Based Purchasing Program while the agency works to address concerns the questions may inadvertently contribute to the opioid epidemic. The AHA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also have released a resource to help hospital patients who may be prescribed opioids before discharge discuss the risks and benefits of these medications with their health care provider.