Edited by David G. Fairchild, MD, MPH, and Jaye Elizabeth Hefner, MD
While total opioid-related hospital admissions remained stable between 2000 and 2014, deaths from opioid-driven hospitalizations rose nearly fivefold, Health Affairs reports.
A researcher examined nationally representative hospitalization data. He concludes that despite the stable rate of hospital admissions owing to opioids, the intensity of those admissions increased “as hospitalizations for opioid dependence or abuse were replaced by those for opioid and heroin poisoning.” The fastest-growing groups of patients hospitalized for poisonings were whites, patients aged 50 to 64, Medicare recipients, and those living in areas in the lowest quartile of household income.
The author notes that more potent opioids, like fentanyl, and the price of prescription drugs relative to that of street heroin are contributing factors.