Thursday, 21 June, 2018

ED Opioid Overdose Visits Jump 30% in One Year

Getty Images Getty Images
Judith Alexander | 07 March, 2018, 12:00

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in the past year opioid overdose rates increased across the United States by 30 percent overall, with a 70 percent increase in areas of the Midwest hard hit by the opioid crisis.

That analysisshowed a 34.5 percent increase between the same periods in 2016 and 2017.

In Kentucky, a state hit hard by the opioid epidemic, emergency department visits for overdoses decreased by 15 percent over the study period.

The data represent yet another dismal sign that efforts to curb the worst drug epidemic in US history have not taken hold in most of the country.

Rising opioid overdose deaths have been linked to a falling USA life expectancy - it dropped in 2015 and again in 2016.

She called ERs "essential hubs" in the fight against the opioid epidemic, and said the CDC recommends that emergency departments institute "warm handoffs", a practice in increasing use in the region, where people in addiction can be sent directly to treatment from the ER after an overdose.

She added that the emergency room data show that "for every fatal case, there are many more nonfatal cases, each one with its own personal and economic toll".

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Nationally, ER visits for suspected opioid overdoses went up for all regions, all age groups, men and women.

The only bright spot - and it's a dim one at that - was that the CDC found decreases in opioid overdoses in states like West Virginia, New Hampshire and Kentucky that have been leading the nation in the category.

The CDC recently started using a new system to track ER overdoses and found the rate of opioid overdoses rose from 14 to 18 per 100,000 ER visits over a year. Belated efforts to rein in distribution fueled a resurgence of heroin and the emergence of a deadly, black market version of the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

Data from hospital emergency departments show a big increase in drug overdoses across the country.

State and county health departments play a key role in combating the opioid epidemic by providing naloxone to the public and first responders, increasing access to addiction treatment, and supporting harm reduction programs for injection users, according to the report. "More Americans are dying each day from opioid overdoses, in every community across the nation".

However, neither Congress nor the White House has appropriated new funding to treat people affected by the opioid crisis, despite pleas from public health officials, some of whom have put a starting price tag at $6bn. Visits rose 35 percent in IN, 28 percent in OH and 21 percent in Missouri.

"Emergency department education and post-overdose protocols, including providing naloxone and linking people to treatment, are critical needs", said Alana Vivolo-Kantor, a behavioral scientist in CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. And just last week, he held a high-profile summit on the epidemic at the White House.

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