ER visits for opioid overdoses soar in Wisconsin

Desiree Steele
March 9, 2018

"Long before we receive data from death certificates, emergency department data can point to alarming increases in opioid overdoses", Schuchat said in a press release Tuesday.

"The heroin and illicit drug supply has gotten even more unsafe than it used to be", she said, adding that the drugs are so toxic that paramedics and police are at risk of poisoning themselves.

According to Politifact, more than 64,000 people died in the United States in 2016 from drug overdoses - the majority of which were linked to opioids such as oxycodone, fentanyl and heroin.

Almost 143,000 Americans were brought to the ER for opioid overdoses during the 15-month period.

The change in Pennsylvania is even more dramatic with an 80 percent increase. The 109 percent increase in Wisconsin was a leading contributor to the overall increase across the Midwest. The CDC looked at Emergency Department and hospital billing data from 52 jurisdictions in 45 states.

Pharmacies in the state dispensed 4.1 million opioid prescriptions in 2017, down 20 percent from 5.1 million in 2015, according a report last week from the Controlled Substances Board.

All five monitored regions revealed a spike in people with possible opioid overdoses between July 2016 and September 2017, according to data from the CDC's Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance Program.

The rate rose most in the Midwest - 70 percent, including a 65 percent hike in IL.

That analysisshowed a 34.5 percent increase between the same periods in 2016 and 2017.

The CDC's new report urges state health departments to take actions like distributing more naloxone, improving access to drug-assisted addiction therapies and coordinating across state lines to combat the opioid epidemic.

The rate of such ER visits rose 105 percent in DE and 81 percent in Pennsylvania.

In the two-year spending agreement Congress is finalizing this month, an extra $6 billion has been budgeted to battle this opioid crisis.

"All five regions of the US saw significant increases during this time period", said Anne Schuchat, MD, acting CDC director, in a CDC tele-briefing Tuesday.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told reporters Tuesday that President Donald Trump's administration is trying to decrease supply of and demand for opioids, and reduce the stigma of addiction. Others say one key could be training emergency room doctors and nurses to make sure addicts get help to break their addiction.

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