Hospitals Increasingly Affected By Opioid Overdoses

Hospital admissions related to overdoses from heroin and other opioids rose 64 percent in the United States between 2005 and 2014, a government report shows.

As misuse of prescription painkillers and street opioids climbed nationwide, related hospital stays jumped from 137 per 100,000 people to 225 per 100,000 in that decade, researchers found.

However, there was wide variation between states, according to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality report.

“These new data provide vital insights into the trends that are shaping one of the nation’s most pressing health challenges,” agency director Dr. Andy Bindman said in an agency news release.

“With updated information about state and regional variations in opioid-related hospital care, we’re increasing our potential to develop effective strategies to tackle the crisis,” Bindman said.

States where overdoses required at least 70 percent more hospital beds between 2009 and 2014 were North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington, researchers found.

In 2014, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and West Virginia each reported rates above 300 per 100,000 people — far above the national average.

According to federal health officials, the United States is in the grip of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. Each day, 90 Americans die from overdoses of street opioids or prescription painkillers like OxyContin (oxycodone) and Vicodin (hydrocodone). Misuse of opioids costs the nation more than $20 billion a year in emergency department and hospital care.

These new statistics “open the door to valuable insights about the growing burdens that opioid misuse are placing on hospitals and emergency departments,” said Bindman. “It’s our hope that public health leaders, policymakers and others will use [these statistics] to further target and evaluate their efforts to confront the crisis.”

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