Authors: Alice Weatherston
An American research team has shed further light on the impact of the current ‘opioid epidemic’ taking place in the USA after analyzing national trends in intensive care unit (ICU) admissions related to opioid overdoses. The study, which took place at the University of Chicago (IL, USA) and Vizient Inc. (TX, USA), was presented at the American Thoracic Society 2016 International Conference (CA, USA), highlighting the urgent need to deal with the demands of opioid overuse within the health system.
Patient data from Vinzient Inc., incorporating 28 million hospital discharges throughout a seven year period from 2009, was analyzed by the University of Chicago team. A 42% increase in hospital discharges for opioid overdoses was discovered, along with a rise in opioid-related deaths.
These trends affected different areas of the USA variably however: “Pennsylvania and North Carolina have nearly doubled the number of ICU discharges for opioid overdose in the past seven years,” remarked lead investigator, Jennifer Stevens (University of Chicago).
Stevens added: “This suggests that there may be an opportunity for hospitals and communities in these states to get ahead of the critical care needs of this population and to help first-line responders prevent future admissions to the ICU.”
The team warn that the results are a key signal to tackle the issues. Despite extensive treatment facilities and the availability of Naloxone, which is effective in reversing the effects of overdose, ICUs are still seeing rises in admissions related to opioid overdoses. This results in further pressures on services such as acute dialysis and has contributed to an increase in healthcare cost of 46% over the last 7 years.
Study coauthor, Michael Howel (University of Chicago), commented on how the health service should react: “Hospitals that are seeing rising volumes of overdose and opioid-dependent admissions can help by increasing training for clinicians in addiction management, and by working to devise strategies that support patients and families in the hospital and as they transition loved ones from the critical care environment to outpatient addiction treatment.”
“Greater national funding to support community efforts that help survivors and improve resources for patients and families is essential for these efforts to move forward and succeed,” he reinforced.