Most patients who visit ER for opioid overdose do not receive follow-up care

Most patients who visit ER for opioid overdose do not receive follow-up care

Only 16 percent of insured patients who visited the emergency department for an opioid overdose received timely follow-up care to prevent a future overdose or death, a recent study found.

Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania examined the insurance claims of 6,451 adult patients nationwide who were treated for an overdose between October 2011 and September 2016. A total of 4,555 overdosed from prescription opioids and 1,896 from heroin.

Of the patients, 1,069 received follow-up care after being discharged. Follow-up care was defined as outpatient or inpatient opioid treatment, behavioral health services, or primary care visits within three months of the overdose or the use of prescription of medication for opioid use disorder.

Race appeared to be a factor in whether follow-up treatment was received.

Nearly 75 percent of the patients were non-Hispanic whites, while approximately 10 percent were African-American. Of the white patients, 12.1 percent received follow-up treatment, while 6.1 percent of black patients did.

Hispanic patients also were less likely to receive treatment as were women.

More than 62 percent of patients who received treatment previously for an overdose received follow-up care. Only 10 percent of patients who did not receive treatment 90 days prior to their overdose received follow-up care.