One New Stat Shows Extent of Opioid Problem

Opioid-related ER visits nearly doubled in 10 years
By Josh Rosenblatt,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2017 12:24 AM CDT
Updated Jun 21, 2017 1:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – The severity of America's opioid epidemic was captured in a dire government report published Tuesday. According to the report, released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the rate of opioid-related emergency room visits nearly doubled between 2005 and 2014, increasing a whopping 99%. The report also found the rate of opioid-related inpatient hospital stays increased 64% during that time. All told, American hospitals reported 1.27 million opioid-related visits in 2014, about 3,500 per day. The report also states that women have closed the gender gap when it comes to opioid-related hospital visits. In 2005 the rate of male inpatient stays was considerably higher than the rate for women, but by 2014 the rate was the same, though men are still more likely to be treated in hospital emergency departments for opioid-related issues.

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Though the opioid epidemic is a countrywide problem, the AHRQ report finds that the problem is considerably worse in certain states. Maryland ranked at the top of the list of states for emergency visits in 2014, while Massachusetts saw the most inpatient stays. The Washington Post reports that Maryland is already suffering high rates of heroin and prescription-opioid overdoses. The number of opioid-related deaths in the state has nearly quadrupled since 2010 and the governor declared a state of emergency earlier this year. That increase can be blamed partially on the spread of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. One expert tells the Huffington Post the AHRQ data comes as "no surprise," noting that overdose deaths are "just the tip of the iceberg" in the US. (In 2016 drug overdoses became the leading cause of death for people under 50 in America.)

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