March 17, 2018

Pa. sees 81 percent rise in ER visits for opioid overdoses

08 March 2018, 12:59 | Rodolfo Wallace

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

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says ER visits for opioid overdoses rose 30 percent in 45 states from July 2016 through September 2017

Wisconsin and DE each saw a more than 100 percent increase in opioid-related emergencies past year. But one factor is probably the differences in availability of newer, highly potent illegal opioids, such as fentanyl, which have been flooding the country in recent years, Schuchat says.

Director of the CDC Anne Schuchat reveals that she and her team "saw, sadly, that in every region, in every age group of adults, in both men and women, overdoses from opioids are increasing".

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.

Schuchat further admits that "we think that the number of people addicted to opioids is relatively stable". In the first nine months of 2017, the state had 609 opioid deaths, a 5 percent decrease from the same period in 2016.

"The potency and toxicity of what's on the street is very high right now", said Schuchat. "However, if the person is seen in the ED, we are presented with an opportunity to take steps toward preventing a repeat overdose, ideally linking an individual to care and potentially preventing an overdose death".

"It's the scariest thing I've ever seen in my career", Eiseman said.

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"Even with the declines we've seen in the past few years, (opioid prescriptions) are still three times higher in the United States than in Europe".

However, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island are among states showing a decrease in such visits, according to the CDC data.

Significant increases in all states reporting in the Midwest, including Wisconsin (109 percent), IL (66 percent), in (35 percent), OH (28 percent), and Missouri (21 percent).

For example, overdoses increased 105 percent in DE, compared with 80.6 percent in Pennsylvania and 34 percent in Maine.

"There's a lot more we can do", he said.

The report noted the central role of state and local health departments in coordinating responses to opioid overdoses.

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