ER Overdose Visits Surge – Opioid Crisis Shows No Signs of Slowing
New CDC data shows that ER overdose visits rose sharply in many states across the country, with Pennsylvania spiking by more than 80% between July 2016 and September 2017. Officials believe fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are driving the deadly surge.
As reported by Philly.com, emergency rooms around the country saw a spike in patients overdosing on opioids last year, according to data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and released Tuesday. And those visits — viewed as a harbinger of overdose death rates — are growing particularly quickly in Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Drawing on overdose data from 45 states between July 2016 and September 2017, CDC officials said ER visits for opioid overdoses rose in every region of the country, with the Midwest seeing the largest spike.
Overdose visits increased across all demographic groups: men (30 percent), women (24 percent), and all age groups above 15, though the highest increase, at 36 percent, was recorded among people ages 35 to 54.
“Pennsylvania had already been a high use state and to see that kind of a jump is disheartening,” said Dr. Michael Lynch, medical director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which encompasses 20 hospitals throughout the state and saw about 1,300 overdose cases in the first six months of 2017 alone.
Analyzing emergency-room data is a quicker way to track overdose trends. “Long before we receive data from death certificates, emergency department data can point to alarming increases in opioid overdoses,” said Acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat. She called ERs “essential hubs” in the fight against the opioid epidemic and said the CDC recommends that emergency departments institute “warm handoffs,” a practice in increasing use in the Philadelphia region, where people in addiction can be sent directly to treatment from the ER after an overdose.
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To read more about how ER departments across the country are on the front lines of battling the opioid crisis, please visit Philly.com.