U.S. emergency rooms see 30% jump in opioid overdoses as crisis worsens

Mar 08, 2018, 01:30
U.S. emergency rooms see 30% jump in opioid overdoses as crisis worsens

In the Midwest alone, hospital visits for opioid overdoses rose 70 percent during that time, according to the March CDC report. Overdoses increased 40.3 percent in the West, 21.3 percent in the Northeast, 20.2 percent in the Southwest and 14 percent in the Southeast. The rates of suspected opioid overdoses rose by 5% each quarter on average. Acting CDC director Dr. Anne Schuchat said emergency room visit data is useful because it shows when and where people are overdosing. "The fast-moving opioid overdose epidemic continues and is accelerating".

Emergency departments can provide naloxone - a drug that combats overdoses - and recommend treatment to patients, making it an important frontline in the nation's opioid epidemic, the report said.

Kentucky saw the largest decrease of any state previous year in emergency room visits related to opioid overdoses.

"Up until now, we have been reporting on the tragic loss of life from overdoses, but for every fatal case, there are many more nonfatal cases, each one with its own emotional and economic toll", Schuchat said during a telebriefing on the report. "So we think there probably is not an increase in people using drugs, but there is an increase in the danger associated with a single use".

"The science is clear: addiction is a chronic disease and not a moral failing. The number of Americans experiencing opioid overdoses is still increasing".

"Yep", he said. "We see a little of everything".

The analysis was based on about 91 million emergency room visits that occurred between July 2016 and September 2017, including 142,557 visits that were suspected opioid overdoses. Overdoses may have actually slightly decreased in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. But only that of Kentucky, with a 15 percent decrease, is considered statistically significant. "It does not respect state or county lines and is still increasing in every region in the United States".

"We wanted more timely information", Schuchat says.