Published: Wed, March 07, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

In US, opioid overdoses up 30 percent in a year

In US, opioid overdoses up 30 percent in a year

The CDC reports a 30% increase in emergency department visits for suspected opioid overdoses from 2016-2017. Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Delaware and IL reported an uptick of 50 percent or more, the report said.

The ER data show trends in the opioid abuse epidemic before deaths do, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted the study.

The opioid crisis seemed to be worsening most quickly in Wisconsin, where 109 percent more people went to the emergency room for an overdose in September 2017 than did in July 2016. Of those, 42,000 deaths were linked to opioid use. "It's so hard to know that people are still dying from this".

The reasons for these increases are unclear, but officials say it may have to do with changes in the drug supply, including the availability of newer, highly toxic illegal opioids such as fentanyl, which has been spreading rapidly in recent years. In Wisconsin, visits spiked 107 percent between July 2016 and September 2017, compared with 105 percent in DE, and 81 percent in Pennsylvania, with by far the largest population of the three.

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There's more bad news about the nation's devastating opioid epidemic. Too often, addicts are simply revived and sent home without follow-up care, only to overdose again, she says.

So how can emergency departments respond to rising overdoses? "The quantity of Americans encountering opioid overdoses is as yet expanding".

Walker said ERs can save lives by administering Naloxone, a drug that can reverse an overdose. Most states now use ED data (also called syndromic data) to identify where resources are needed or where gaps exist.

People who have an overdose are more likely to have another, which highlights the importance of emergency departments in making sure the user has education and access to treatment, according to the report.

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"That gives us an opportunity to give them lifesaving Naloxone", she said.

In the face of the glaring data for Pennsylvania and similarly embattled states, the CDC provided some recommendations for how to coordinate responses to opioid overdoses. That's in line with early overdose death reports from those states, officials said. "We need to think much more comprehensively about this issue".

The Trump administration launched an opioid commission a year ago, which produced 56 recommendations for how the nation can move forward in addressing this epidemic.

Last year, President Trump declared the U.S. opioid crisis as a "national public health emergency" - although USA media outlets reported that the declaration fell short of a full national emergency and the funding that would come with it. In the U.S. in 2016, illicit and prescription drug overdoses killed 64,000 people.

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