US opioid epidemic reaches new level of crisis in overdoses, hospitalizations and cost

August 28, 2017

BOSTON... August 28, 2017 -- A new study of the growing United States opioid epidemic reveals that deaths from overdoses have nearly doubled over the past seven years, while increasing acute care costs and hospitalizations are taxing health care systems.

The new paper, "The Critical Care Crisis of Opioid Overdoses in the United States" published online ahead of print in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society is believed to be the first to quantify the impact of opioid abuse on critical care resources in the U.S. The findings reveal that opioid-related demand for acute care services has outstripped the available supply.

In the cohort study, researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel, Harvard Medical School and University of Chicago analyzed nearly 23 million adult hospital admissions at 162 hospitals in 44 states over a seven-year period: January 1, 2009 through September 31, 2015. Among the more than 4 million patients requiring acute care, the researchers found 21,705 who were admitted to intensive care units (ICU) due to opioid overdoses. Admissions included overdoses for prescription drugs, methadone or heroin.

"We found a 34 percent increase in overdose-related ICU admissions while ICU opioid deaths nearly doubled during that same period," according to Dr. Lena Novack, Ph.D., a lecturer in BGU's School of Public Health. The mortality rates of these patients climbed at roughly the same rate, on average, with a steeper rise in deaths of patients admitted to the ICU for overdose after 2012.

The average cost of care per ICU overdose admission also rose significantly - 58 percent - from $58,517 in 2009 to $92,408 in 2015. In addition, the study indicated that opioid-related ICU admissions increased an average of more than half a percent each year over the seven-year timeframe, jumping from seven percent to 10 percent by the end of the study period.

Patients admitted to the ICU due to an overdose increasingly required intensive care, including high-cost renal replacement therapy or dialysis.

Admissions were identified using the Clinical Data Base/Resource ManagerTM of Vizient, Inc., which is comprised of data mainly from urban academic medical centers and may not reflect overdose-related acute care needs in other settings.

"Our estimates may actually be on the low side," Dr. Novack says. Since our team of researchers analyzed admissions rather than a manual chart review, we may not have captured every admission if opioid-related complications weren't coded as such."

The study also did not determine whether increased ICU admissions for opioid overdoses resulted from improved community emergency response that may have saved lives but then required critical care, or whether the increased ICU admissions indicated that community emergency response needs improvement so patients require a less intensive hospital care.

States With the Highest Opioid Hospitalizations

The researchers found that Massachusetts and Indiana have the highest opioid admission densities in the nation. Pennsylvania experienced the sharpest rise in opioid-related overdoses during the study period, with critical care overdose admissions nearly doubling since 2009. Illinois, California, New York, and Indiana have also experienced ICU admission rate increases during the period.

"Our findings raise the need for a national approach to developing safe strategies to care for ICU overdose patients, to providing coordinated resources in the hospital for patients and families, and to helping survivors maintain sobriety following discharge," the researchers conclude.
-end-
In addition to Dr. Novack, researchers involved in the study are Drs. Jennifer P. Stevens, John Marshall and Douglas J. Hsu at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Dr. Michael J. Howell, University of Chicago.

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe. As Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) looks ahead to turning 50 in 2020, AABGU imagines a future that goes beyond the walls of academia. It is a future where BGU invents a new world and inspires a vision for a stronger Israel and its next generation of leaders. Together with supporters, AABGU will help the University foster excellence in teaching, research and outreach to the communities of the Negev for the next 50 years and beyond. Visit vision.aabgu.org to learn more.

AABGU, which is headquartered in Manhattan, has nine regional offices throughout the United States. For more information, visit http://www.aabgu.org.

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Related Opioid Articles from Brightsurf:

Opioid use can trigger deafness
Opioid use, particularly in high doses, can cause deafness, according to Rutgers researchers.

Patients' access to opioid treatment cumbersome
The 'secret shopper' study used trained actors attempting to get into treatment with an addiction provider in 10 US states.

Changes in opioid use after hip, knee replacement
Researchers looked at changes in opioid prescribing rates and level of pain control in patients who had hip or knee replacement in the U.S. from 2014 to 2017.

Association of state-level opioid-reduction policies with opioid poisonings in kids
Researchers compared the rate of opioid poisonings in children and teens before and after implementation of state-level policies intended to decrease the amount of opioid medications prescribed and distributed.

Prescribing an overdose: A chapter in the opioid epidemic
Research indicates that widespread opioid overprescribing contributed to the opioid epidemic.

New molecular probes for opioid receptors
It could be an important step forward in the improvement of pain therapy: Thanks to newly developed molecular probes, the behavior of individual opioid receptors can now be studied in detail.

Study: The opioid crisis may be far worse than we thought
New research appearing in the journal Addiction shows that the number of deaths attributed to opioid-related overdoses could be 28% higher than reported due to incomplete death records.

PA school nurses on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic
As opioid overdoses continue to grab headlines, more states are providing their communities with easier access to naloxone, which can prevent death by reversing opioid overdoses.

Opioid prescriptions affected by computer settings
Researchers found that when default settings, showing a preset number of opioid pills, were modified downward, physicians prescribed fewer pills.

Changes in opioid-related drug overdose deaths in US
Researchers analyzed changes in the proportion of drug overdose deaths involving opioids that were certified as suicide, unintentional or of undetermined intent in this observational study.

Read More: Opioid News and Opioid Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.