Admissions to intensive care units related to opioid overdoses have increased rapidly over a nearly seven-year period, a new study reveals.
“This is the first description of how the epidemic is hitting the most resource-intense parts of our health care system,” said Dr. Jennifer Stevens, lead researcher and associate director of the intensive care unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
The information — collected between January 1, 2009, and September 31, 2015 — exposed a 34 percent increase in these types of admissions, as well as a surge in ICU deaths linked to opioids which nearly doubled.
“This study tells us two important things,” she said. “First, there are growing numbers of people who are so sick from their opioid overdose that they need ICU-level care. Second, despite everything we can do in the ICU, more patients are dying in the ICU with complications from their overdose than ever before.”
Stevens and her team looked at data from 162 hospitals in 44 states, and out of almost 23 million adult submissions, 21,705 had received ICU care because of an opioid overdose. They also discovered a 58 percent in the average cost of ICU overdose admissions, from $58,517 to $92,408.
ICU admissions increased more than half a percent each year of the studied time period. On average, the mortality rate of these admissions grew at about the same pace with surges occurring after 2012.
Stevens admitted that the reasons contributing to this problem are difficult to pinpoint.
“Our study can’t distinguish between two possible explanations of the increase in ICU admissions and deaths from overdoses — are we rescuing more people or not rescuing them soon enough?” she asked. “I will say that it’s really… (continue reading)