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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Prescription Opioid Overdose ER Visits

It is a common misconception amongst addicts that prescription drugs are safer than illicit narcotics, because they are prescribed by a doctor. Many do not realize just how dangerous drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone can be, which often times leads to overdose deaths. New research indicates that more than two-thirds of emergency department visits for opioid overdoses involve prescription drugs, HealthDay reports.

Tens of thousands of opioid overdoses nationwide were analyzed by Stanford medical student, Michael Yokell, along with a team of research colleagues at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The findings indicated that approximately 68 percent of all overdoses involved prescription drugs, according to the article.

It turns out that the number of overdoses tied to prescription opioids could be even higher, since 13 percent of cases did not specify the drugs involved. The research showed that multiple narcotics were involved in three (3) percent of cases. The findings showed that 16 percent of overdose cases involved heroin.

“Opioid overdose exacts a significant financial and health care utilization burden on the U.S. health care system,” the researchers wrote. “Most patients in our sample overdosed on prescription opioids, suggesting that further efforts to stem the prescription opioid overdose epidemic are urgently needed.”

Prescription opioid overdoses occurred most commonly in urban areas at 84 percent, 40 percent of overdoses were in the South. Interestingly, women made up 53 percent of prescription opioid overdoses.

The findings were published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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