ER visits for opioid overdose up 30%, CDC study finds


A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows emergency department visits for opioid overdoses rose previous year.

All five US regions experienced rate increases; the largest was in the Midwest (70 percent), followed by the West (40 percent), Northeast (21 percent), Southwest (20 percent), and Southeast (14 percent).

The largest regional increase occurred in the Midwest, which saw a 69.7 percent jump in opioid overdoses, according to the report.

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The increase was worst in the Midwest and in large metropolitan areas. A similar surge of cases was seen in Delaware. Other states in the Eastern region, such as Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, showed nonsignificant decreases of less than 10%.

According to NPR, the data allows the most current look at opioid overdoses in the country and is based on such visits seen in 92 hospital emergency rooms from the July 2016 to September 2017.

"We have talked in the past about the rural areas being hard hit by the epidemic".

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It also reports that toxicology screens show a leveling off of opioid-related overdose deaths where prescription drugs were present, and drop in the number of Schedule II opioid prescriptions dispensed. All states in the US now have such a database. "But on top of that, the heroin and other illicit drug supply has gotten even more risky than it used to be", said Schuchat.

Data from ER visits, rather than overdose deaths, is useful because they show when and where people are overdosing, information states can use to identify where resources are needed, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting CDC director, in a conference call Tuesday with reporters. "So we think emergency rooms are essential hubs in this fast moving epidemic". "Emergency department education and post-overdose protocols, including providing naloxone and linking people to treatment, are critical needs", said Alana Vivolo-Kantor, Ph.D., behavioral scientist in CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

"Our coaches who work on the (ED2Recovery) program have the shared experience of having woken up in an emergency room after an overdose so they know that fear and anxiety and scariness. Nobody understands me, '" said Tanya Kraege, recovery coach supervisor with Safe Communities of Madison-Dane County which started the ED2Recovery Program in 2016. Pennsylvania also is expanding a "warm-handoff" program that strives to steer overdose survivors into treatment. Kentucky, meanwhile, reported a statistically significant decrease (15%).

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