Data: Medicaire Part D Opioid Prescription Mapping Tool

by Emily Burleson

Data home page:


The data I’m referencing in this blog post is downloaded to my computer in a CSV file, but a link to the bigger data sets and mapping tool is above. It’s coming from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which provides health insurance to millions of elderly and low-income people in the United States. The data comes straight from the agency that it’s supposed to be about, which is good.

The main topic of our research, within Healthcare in Texas/Houston, is maternal mortality, and why the rate of maternal death is higher in Texas than it should be. Researchers, quoted in this Texas Tribune article, said they can’t pinpoint the exact causes, but they did say that black mothers were disproportionately dying, and more new mothers are committing suicide and suffering from opioid addictions.

This dataset shows the rates at which doctors and other medical professionals prescribed opioids in 2013. It can help answer questions like:

  1. Does Texas prescribe more opioids than other states, or the nation as a whole?
  2. Since opioid overdoes are rising, are people getting those drugs from medical professionals? (States, like Texas, with below-average prescribing rates suggest that people are getting these drugs illegally.)

My conclusions? Since Texas’ opioid prescribing rate is lower than average in the United States, but the rate of opioid overdoses is increasing, people (including new mothers) must be getting those drugs illegally, or be using illegal drugs like heroin completely.

New question: Are new mothers ever prescribed opioids to handle the pains of childbirth and recovery? And is that leading to any addictions, and overdoses?


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