Opioid-related ED discharges dip in last decade, but heroin discharges rise

While emergency department discharges after opioid-related admissions have decreased since 2010, discharges pertaining to heroin use have surged since 2008, according to a study published in Health Affairs.

For the study, researchers analyzed ED discharge data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project between 2006 to 2014.

While ED discharge rates increased by 5 percent annually from 2006 to 2010, these rates began to decline around 2010, dropping by five percent each year through 2014. In 2008, heroin-related discharges began surging by 31.4 percent annually.

"While there has been a significant increase in opioid-related admissions over the past two decades, in 2010 admissions for prescription opioid misuse began to decline," said Tina Hernandez-Boussard, PhD, associate professor of medicine at Stanford (Calif.) University School of Medicine and one of the study's authors. "That's the good news. The bad news is that although prescription opioid use decreased, heroin and methadone greatly increased. I'm cautiously optimistic that prescribing clinicians are positively reacting to the opioid crisis, and therefore prescription opioids are contributing less to the overall drug epidemic."

More articles on opioids: 
Washington state, Seattle file opioid lawsuits against drugmakers 
Florida governor to propose 3-day opioid prescription limits in 2018 
Study: 7-day opioid prescriptions inadequate for certain surgical procedures

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