Data from an analysis of the National Inpatient Sample show mortality rates for opioid-driven hospitalizations more than doubled between 2000 and 2007, and nearly doubled again by 2014.
Song, MD, PhD, assistant professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and internal medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, both in Boston, used data from 1993 to 2014 to conduct the analysis. She compared mortality rates and composition of hospitalizations for primary diagnoses of opioid-related causes with those outcomes for two other groups: other drugs and all causes, according to the study.
In-hospital mortality rates from opioid-driven hospitalizations rose from 0.43% before the year 2000 to 2.02% in 2014. This yielded an average increase of 0.12 percentage points per year compared with mortality rates occurring from hospitalizations associated with other drugs. Hospitalizations for other drugs failed to change during that time period.
The total volume of hospitalizations driven by opioid use remained stable over the course of the study, according to the results. However, hospitalizations involving opioids demonstrated a shift from those associated with dependence or abuse to those associated with poisoning from opioid or heroin use. Song noted that fatalities are more common in poisoning cases.
Poisoning hospitalizations for opioids or heroin increased by 0.01 per 1,000 people per year after 2000. Conversely, the same rate of decline occurred in hospitalizations for dependence or abuse of opioids over the same time period.
Opioid or heroin poisoning admissions occurred more frequently among white individuals aged 50 to 64 years. Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities also carried an increased likelihood of opioid or heroin admissions, as did residents of low-income areas.
“As the United States combats the opioid epidemic, efforts to help hospitals respond to the increasing severity of opioid intoxication are needed, especially in vulnerable populations,” Song concluded. – by Rob Volansky
Disclosure: Song reports no relevant financial disclosures.