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ED Visits Related to Opioids Nearly Doubled in Six-year Period

ANN ARBOR, MI – Emergency departments are seeing a lot more patients seeking care related to opioid use, according to a recent analysis, which notes a 99.4% increase in such visits between 2005 and 2014.

At the same time, according to an analysis from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), a federal-state partnership sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the rate of opioid-related inpatient stays increased 64.1%.

While generally on the rise, emergency care and hospitalization rates weren’t consistent across the nation, according to a study team led by researchers from Ann Arbor, MI-based Truven Health Analytics.

For example, the rate of opioid-related ED visits in 2014 varied 14-fold, with the highest levels occurring in Massachusetts (441.6 visits per 100,000 population), Rhode Island (288.6), and Maryland (288.4), and the lowest in Iowa (31.1), Nebraska (39.9), and South Dakota (47.1), the study points out.

Meanwhile, the rates more than doubled in another three states: Ohio (119.1%), South Dakota (106.4%), and Minnesota (102.3%).

In terms of admissions, the highest hospitalization rates occurred in Maryland (362.1 stays per 100,000 population), the District of Columbia (339.0), and New York (335.3), while the lowest rates were posted in Iowa (44.2), Nebraska (46.1), and Texas (70.9).

Oregon (88.9%), North Carolina (81.8%), and South Dakota (74.1%) had the greatest increases.


“The opioid epidemic has reached alarming levels in many parts of the United States, affecting the lives of thousands of individuals and families,” study authors write. “Between 2000 and 2014, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids in the United States increased 200 percent. Between 2013 and 2014 alone, the rate of opioid overdose deaths increased 14 percent, from 7.9 to 9.0 per 100,000 population.”

The analysis found that states with the highest opioid-related rate for inpatient stays also tended to have the highest opioid-related rate for ED visits. “There was a strong, positive correlation (0.84) between states' opioid-related population rates for inpatient stays and ED visits,” according to the researchers.

Almost all of the states in the analysis – 26 of 27 – had an increase of at least 10% in the population rate of opioid-related ED visits between 2009 and 2014. A substantial decrease in the rate of opioid-related ED visits, 18.5%, occurred in only one state, Iowa, which also had the lowest rate of opioid-related ED visits, 31.1 visits per 100,000 population.

In the HCUP Statistical Brief, rates for more than 40 individual states and the District of Columbia are provided for 2014, as well as changes in rates for the six-year period from 2009 to 2014. Identification of opioid-related stays and visits is based on all-listed diagnoses and includes events associated with prescription opioids or illicit opioids, such as heroin.