CDC reports rising opioid-related emergency room visits

Simon Moss
March 9, 2018

The report analyzed overdoses from emergency department visits in the across 52 jurisdictions in 45 states from July 2016 through September 2017. Among those states, DE and Pennsylvania, along with Wisconsin, topped the list of states where the rate of ER visits for overdoses grew the most quickly. They were up about 30 percent overall, with the largest increases mainly in western states, Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat said in a media briefing March 6 that included Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, M.D., MPH.

The CDC says the figures show the situation "continuing to worsen". Distribution of naloxone, an overdose-reversal measure, could be distributed to not only first responders, but also to friends and family of people who are drug users. Of those, 42,000 deaths were linked to opioid use.

"I meet with those on the frontlines of this opioid crisis in OH regularly", said a statement from Portman.

The report did not identify what opioids contributed to the ED visits or why rates varied.

Overdose increases in some states and cities may be due to changes in the volume and type of illicit opioid drugs being sold on the streets, health officials said.

"We want there to be more hand-off in the emergency department between resuscitation or saving a life and addressing the longer-term needs for that individual or their support system", she said.

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SCHUCHAT: The fast-moving opioid overdose epidemic continues and is accelerating.

Health departments also can notify communities about emerging spikes in emergency department overdoses so that public health and public safety resources can be better coordinated to respond when help is needed most. 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 region, where people in addiction can be sent directly to treatment from the ER after an overdose. But a report by NPR suggested the availability of highly potent drugs like fentanyl may have had an impact on the number of overdoses there.

"We wanted more timely information", Schuchat says. "This is not just health care", he said. A year ago there were 111 overdose deaths.

Last year, President Trump declared the U.S. opioid crisis as a "national public health emergency" - although United States media outlets reported that the declaration fell short of a full national emergency and the funding that would come with it.

In the opioid crisis, physical and mental health issues become tightly intertwined and complicate efforts for policymakers to find resolution, Miller said.

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