An update on oxycodone: lessons for death investigators in Australia

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Abstract

Oxycodone is one of themost abused prescription drugs. Iatrogenic factors that lead to oxycodone-related death, such as mis-prescribing, present an opportunity for death prevention if identified early. This study investigated deaths involving oxycodone in Australia to explore potentially inappropriate prescribing and the coroner?s investigation. The National Coronial Information System identified cases from 2001 to 2011 where oxycodone was detected by toxicological analysis. There were 806 oxycodone-related deaths, with a significant increase in the 11-year period, from 21 deaths in 2001, up almost sevenfold in 2011 (139 deaths). Most deaths were caused by combined drug toxicity (63.4 ) or oxycodone toxicity alone (11.8 ). Most individuals were male (59.1 ), aged 35?44 years (26.7 ), who died unintentionally (56.4 ), with mental illness (52.1 ) and/or a history of acute or chronic pain (46.2 ). 312 cases (39 ) described a legitimate prescription for oxycodone, of which most involved non-cancer related chronic pain. About three quarters of the indications were deemed appropriate. There were at least 43 different indications treated with oxycodone that were inappropriate. The majority of oxycodone-related cases involved minor to no description of the drugs involved (n = 600; 74.4 ). A moderate description of oxycodone involvement was given in 162 cases (20.1 ), while only 44 cases (5.5 ) involved a thorough examination and recommendations from the coroners on oxycodone and other drugs involved in death. This study emphasized the need for medical practitioners to exercise caution when prescribing oxycodone and for coroners to provide more consistent and detailed information regarding drug use, in order to identify and implement preventive strategies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3 - 12
Number of pages10
JournalForensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Cite this

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title = "An update on oxycodone: lessons for death investigators in Australia",
abstract = "Oxycodone is one of themost abused prescription drugs. Iatrogenic factors that lead to oxycodone-related death, such as mis-prescribing, present an opportunity for death prevention if identified early. This study investigated deaths involving oxycodone in Australia to explore potentially inappropriate prescribing and the coroner?s investigation. The National Coronial Information System identified cases from 2001 to 2011 where oxycodone was detected by toxicological analysis. There were 806 oxycodone-related deaths, with a significant increase in the 11-year period, from 21 deaths in 2001, up almost sevenfold in 2011 (139 deaths). Most deaths were caused by combined drug toxicity (63.4 ) or oxycodone toxicity alone (11.8 ). Most individuals were male (59.1 ), aged 35?44 years (26.7 ), who died unintentionally (56.4 ), with mental illness (52.1 ) and/or a history of acute or chronic pain (46.2 ). 312 cases (39 ) described a legitimate prescription for oxycodone, of which most involved non-cancer related chronic pain. About three quarters of the indications were deemed appropriate. There were at least 43 different indications treated with oxycodone that were inappropriate. The majority of oxycodone-related cases involved minor to no description of the drugs involved (n = 600; 74.4 ). A moderate description of oxycodone involvement was given in 162 cases (20.1 ), while only 44 cases (5.5 ) involved a thorough examination and recommendations from the coroners on oxycodone and other drugs involved in death. This study emphasized the need for medical practitioners to exercise caution when prescribing oxycodone and for coroners to provide more consistent and detailed information regarding drug use, in order to identify and implement preventive strategies",
author = "Pilgrim, {Jennifer Lucinda} and Yafistham, {Sabrina Putrianita} and Sanjeev Gaya and Eva Saar and Drummer, {Olaf Heino}",
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An update on oxycodone: lessons for death investigators in Australia. / Pilgrim, Jennifer Lucinda; Yafistham, Sabrina Putrianita; Gaya, Sanjeev; Saar, Eva; Drummer, Olaf Heino.

In: Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2015, p. 3 - 12.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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AU - Pilgrim, Jennifer Lucinda

AU - Yafistham, Sabrina Putrianita

AU - Gaya, Sanjeev

AU - Saar, Eva

AU - Drummer, Olaf Heino

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U2 - 10.1007/s12024-014-9624-x

DO - 10.1007/s12024-014-9624-x

M3 - Article

VL - 11

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EP - 12

JO - Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology

JF - Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology

SN - 1547-769X

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