Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Opioid-Related Emergency Room Visits Driving Costs

With all the focus on opioid overdose deaths, it's easy to forget that the actual death rate from opioid overdoses is surprisingly low.  In fact, the most common destination for most opioid overdoses isn't the grave - it's the emergency department, followed by an expensive hospital stay.

A new study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that there were over 92,000 ED visits related drug overdoses in 2010.  Of these visits to the emergency department:

  • 68% involved prescription opioids (vs. 16% for heroin)
  • 55% were admitted to the hospital where the average stay was 3.8 days, costing an estimated $1.4 billion in hospital care;
  • 53% were women;
  • 40% were in the South;
  • Only 1.4% of overdose-related ED visits resulted in death, suggesting our healthcare system's growing sophistication in dealing with this crisis.  
Overall, inpatient and ED costs for overdoses resulted in $2.4 billion in healthcare expenditures in 2010.  

I wonder how many claims organizations examine this specific metric as a proxy for injured worker safety: ED visits and/or costs that are medication related.  

In other words, how much of that $2.4 billion did you pay for?  

On Twitter @PRIUM1

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