Monday, 15 October, 2018

CDC: Opioid overdoses kill nearly 5 people every hour in the US

A man injects heroin into his arm at Kurt Cobain Memorial Park in Aberdeen Wash. on June 13. The U.S. government says non-fatal overdoses visits to hospital emergency rooms were up about 30 per cent late last summer compared to the same three-month per CDC: Opioid overdoses kill nearly 5 people every hour in the US
Judith Alexander | 08 March, 2018, 02:11

The Tuesday report shows opioid overdoses that led to emergency room visits across the country jumped 30% from July 2016 to September 2017. Through the same point in 2017, there were 47 overdose deaths - roughly a 23 percent increase year over year.

The CDC study found that the rate of ER visits for suspected opioid overdoses, from July 2016 to September 2017, went up 30 percent nationally and 35 percent in the 16 states, which got federal money to closely track fatal and nonfatal opioid overdoses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the nation is in the grip of a fast-moving epidemic for which there are no easy solutions.

In an interview with NPR, Acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat said more potent synthetic opioids may contribute to the geographic variation in opioid overdoses.

After the Midwest, where opioid overdose visits rose an average of 70 percent, the largest regional increase was in the West, where the rise was 40 percent.

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While there was no state-by-state breakdown of visits by the CDC, the Maine Hospital Association estimated that there were about 1,500 to 2,000 visits to Maine emergency departments for opioid overdoses in the year measured. In Kentucky, which has been hit especially hard by the opioid abuse epidemic, the rate dropped 15 percent, which could reflect fluctuations in drug supply, Schuchat said. "But the substances are more unsafe than five years ago", Schuchat said.

"Educating emergency department physicians and staff members about appropriate services for immediate care and treatment and implementing a post-overdose protocol that includes naloxone provision and linking persons into treatment could assist emergency departments with preventing overdose", the authors write.

Among the solutions is increasing access to medication-assisted treatment, which combines behavioral therapy with medication to reduce withdrawal symptoms, Shah said.

Schuchat called the report "concerning", but said there are opportunities for hospitals, law enforcement and community groups to create partnerships to address the crisis. "We know that prescribing patterns for opioids have been high in some rural areas", Schuchat said.

Alert communities to rapid increases in overdoses seen in EDs and coordinate an informed and timely response. "However, there an increasing number of high quality studies that are demonstrating, for a number of conditions, injuries, and surgeries, a combination of ibuprofen or naproxen and acetaminophen is as effective or more effective than an opioid in reducing pain", Hull said.

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