Opioid Deaths During Hospital Stays Quadruped In Last Two Decades
A new study published last week found that opioid-related deaths during hospital stays increased four-fold from 1993-2014 in the United States. While the rate of opioid addiction diagnoses tapered off during this time, the number of opioid deaths (including prescription painkillers and heroin) continued to climb.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School conducted the study in 2016 and examined close to 385,000 hospital stays from a national database of patients who were admitted for opioid abuse. The study revealed that by 2014, the number of patients dying in hospitals from causes due to opioids quadrupled from .43% before 2000 to 2.02% percent.
Patients admitted to the hospital tended to be young, 39-years-old on average, and white. Between 1993-2014, the number of Hispanic and black patients admitted remained stable. The rate of white patients, however, doubled from 2007-2013, reflecting about 30,000 cases.
But the question is, why are so many people dying in hospitals? Study author Zirui Song suggests that hospitals tend to admit patients who are in a more serious condition, possibly due to the increasing prevalence of fentanyl. Fentanyl is a drug similar to heroin, but up to 50 times more potent.
Song also says that the research was conducted to increase awareness of the need for improved strategies at hospitals when patients are admitted for opioid abuse and to continue improving ongoing public health and community strategies.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 64,000 people died in 2016 from drug overdoses, and among those, 20,000 related to synthetic opioids, and another 15,000 were related to heroin.
A commission established by President Trump and Gov. Chris Christie recently issued more than 50 recommendations for the U.S. to combat the crisis, including mandatory ongoing training for doctors, dentists, and other health professionals who write opioid prescriptions.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A, Psychology