Deaths from overdoses on opioids have nearly doubled in the US since 2009, a new study has revealed.
The study, conducted by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, Harvard Medical School and University of Chicago, outlines the growth of America’s opioid epidemic in the past seven years.
It is widely agreed that the epidemic was fueled by over-prescription of highly addictive painkillers, which for some were too expensive, leading them to turn to cheaper alternatives such as heroin and fentanyl.
Now, this new report shows that the crisis is costing taxpayers millions of dollars as rates of hospitalizations and overdose-related deaths skyrocket.
And yet, experts warn this cost barely dents the crisis, since America doesn’t have enough centers, staff and anti-addiction drugs to treat the soaring number of addicts.
The paper is believed to be the fist to quantify the impact of opioid abuse on critical care resources in the Untied States.
A study new study conducted by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, Harvard Medical School and University of Chicago, shows that the opioid epidemic has increased acute care costs and that hospitalizations are are taxing health care systems
TRUMP STILL HASN’T DONE ANYTHING TO ADDRESS THE OPIOID CRISIS
President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency at the beginning of August, but has not taken the legal steps to address it.
Trump called it ‘a serious problem the likes of which we have never had,’ and said the administration will ‘spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money,’ on the crisis.
He also made addressing the epidemic one of his campaign promises during the 2016 election.
And yet, he has still yet to send a declaration and send it to Congress to formally address the issue.
Because he has not yet followed through, millions of dollars the executive branch could direct toward expanding treatment facilities or supplying officers with naloxone are being spent elsewhere.
A White House spokesperson said emergency actions are going through ‘an expedited legal review’.
It’s unclear how long that review will take.
If the declaration takes effect the administration will be able to waive some federal rules, such as one that restricts where Medication recipients can get treated for their addiction.
It will also put pressure on Congress for funding.
A team of researchers analyzed nearly 23 million adult hospital admissions at 162 hospitals in 44 states over a seven-year period starting January 1, 2009 and ending September 30, 2015.
Among more than 4 million patients requiring care, 21,705 were admitted to the intensive care units due to opioid overdoses.
Those admissions included overdoses of 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, who lectures in BGU’s School of Public Health.
Patients’ mortality rates climbed at roughly the same rate, on average, with a steeper rise in deaths of those admitted to the ICU for overdose after 2012.
Massachusetts and Indiana were found to have the highest opioid admission densities in the nation.
Pennsylvania experienced the sharpest rise in opioid-related hospital admissions during the study period, with critical care overdose admissions nearly doubling since 2009.
‘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 concluded.
The average cost of care per ICU overdose admission rose by a significant 58 percent – from $58,517 in 2009 to $92,408 in 2015.
The study indicated that opioid-related ICU admissions increased more than half a percent each year over the seven-year time frame, jumping from seven to 10 percent by the end of the study period.
Patients admitted to the ICU due to an overdose increasingly required intensive care over the study period, including high-cost renal replacement therapy or dialysis.
The team identified the number admissions using the Clinical Data Base and Resource Manager, which is made up of data from urban academic medical centers.
The difference in the number of ICU admissions and the number of overdose related ICU admissions shows how overdoses are driving hospitalization rates
A graph shows the change in the total of deaths related to overdoses per month over the seven-year period to show the huge uptick
Because of that the numbers might not reflect the overdose-related needs in other settings, meaning numbers could be much higher than anticipated.
‘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.