Poor access to opioid addiction care for total joint arthroplasty patients

Kelly I. Suchman, Meredith Bartelstein, Madeline Smith, Nicole Zubizarreta, Mitchell C. Weiser, Calin S. Moucha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The United States is experiencing an opioid epidemic, and orthopedists prescribe a large proportion of these drugs. Patients often become dependent on painkillers and face barriers to treatment. Given that many joint arthroplasty patients are enrolled in Medicare, we aimed to examine the ease of orthopedic patients with various insurance types to access addiction and pain specialists. Methods: Using three web-based directories, we identified addiction specialists within a 5-mile radius of our hospital. We contacted these practices and inquired as to whether they treated addiction, types of insurance they accepted, and appointment availability. Results: We identified 190 addiction and pain management specialists and were able to reach 134/190 (70.5%). Nine (6.7%) of the 134 reachable physicians accepted Medicare or Medicaid, which is nine (4.7%) of the 190 physicians initially located. The average wait time to an appointment was 4.2 days, and a significant difference in wait time existed across insurance types (p = 0.0284). Discussion: Orthopedic patients face many barriers to receiving treatment for painkiller addiction. Wait time to see an addiction specialist also varied based on insurance type. Online directories may not be useful for certain patient populations to identify physicians. Orthopedic surgeons should partner with addiction and pain specialists to help alleviate the barriers that patients face.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-249
Number of pages6
JournalBulletin of the Hospital for Joint Disease (2013)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2019


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