- Between 2000 and 2014, opiate-related overdose deaths in the U.S. increased 200%, according to new data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
- Between 2005 and 2014, the rate of opioid-related hospital stays increased 64.1% while opioid-related ED visits increased 99.4%.
- The rate of opioid-related hospitalizations and ED visits varied significantly by state, with the highest hospitalization rate occurring in Maryland and the highest rate of ED visits in Massachusetts.
This past October, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) declared an opioid epidemic in the U.S. due to a marked increase in the misuse of opioids over the past decade. The new statistical brief provides detailed, state-by-state data on overdose deaths, the rate of opioid-related hospitalizations and the rate of opioid-related ED visits. The brief did not differentiate between illegal opioid use, misuse of prescription opioids and compliant use of opioids.
The data highlight the impact of the opioid epidemic on hospitals. Prompt ED care has been a focus for many facilities, and the rapid increase in ED visits due to opioids has the potential to significantly affect waiting times. Inpatient stays increased by 64.1% overall in the last 9 years—a staffing issue for any hospital, but some may be harder hit. For example, in Maryland, hospitals under the total patient revenue system are paid a set amount every year, so an increase in hospitalizations does not mean a concurrent revenue increase. In addition, providers in both settings face the clinical challenge of treating more patients who have complex medical histories and potential drug interactions.
HHS has urged providers to alter their prescribing practices, essentially making opioid medications a last resort. Meanwhile, hospitals and healthcare systems have started their own initiatives to address this national challenge, such as focusing on pain management alternatives or requiring across-the-board reductions in the number of opioid prescriptions.