Odds of opioid overdose increase for those with previous ER visits

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People with one to two visits to the emergency rooms for any medical issue are 1.5 times more likely to have a fatal opioid overdose compared to people with no hospital visits, according to a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

In addition, people who visited the hospital for opioid use disorder were 2.9 times more likely to die from an overdose within the next year.

Researchers studied more than 2.29 million records in four databases, and using statistical modeling predicted opioid-related overdoses. The researchers then tracked nonfatal opioid overdoses from emergency department and inpatient hospital-settings data, and fatal opioid overdoses using medical examiner records.

Approximately 1,204 people experienced a fatal opioid overdose, whereas about 8,430 people had a nonfatal overdose. A total of 66.8 percent of patients had records in the prescription drug-monitoring program.

People who were recently released from prison were more than four times likely to experience a fatal overdose.

“A lot of the individuals with the highest risk for an overdose come in contact with the hospital or prison system,” Brendan Saloner, Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School associate professor and the study’s lead author, said. “There’s a high opportunity in those places to help those individuals, and we can save a lot of lives if we focus efforts there.”

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