The death rate of people hospitalized for an opioid-related condition increased over the past 15 years, driven in large part by an increase in Medicare patients.
A Health Affairs report released on Monday revealed the hospital opioid death rate more than quadruple between 2000 and 2014, despite the number of general hospitalizations related to opiates that remain relatively stable. The mortality rate of patients with other drugs also remained virtually unchanged during this period. The increase in the death rate is due to a change in the nature of hospitalizations for opiates, reports CNBC.
Hospitalizations for opioid poisoning increased during the investigated period, while those for opioid dependence or abuse decreased. More and more patients were admitted with more serious addictions and exposure to substances such as heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Researchers found that in 2014 there were approximately 20.2 deaths per 1,000 opioid-related hospitalizations, compared to only 4.3 per 1,000 hospitalizations in 2000.
Dr. Zirui Song, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, author of the report, found that whites and low-income people were the most likely to be hospitalized for opioid-related conditions. Song noted that "people enrolled in Medicare, not Medicaid, represented the fastest growing part" of opiate hospitalizations.
"Medicare beneficiaries went from the smallest proportion of [opioid-related] hospitalizations in the 1990s to the highest in the mid-2000s," Song said in the report, according to CNBC.
Song says the worrying rise in hospital deaths related to opiates is driven by the national epidemic, which killed 64,070 Americans in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
President Donald Trump declared the opiate epidemic a "public health emergency" on October 26, giving battered states the flexibility of opiate addiction on how to direct federal resources to combat the increase in deaths by drugs
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under 50.
Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse published on September 7 predict the epidemic of addiction in the United States will continue to deteriorate, pushing drug deaths to an estimated 71,600 in 2017. If estimates are accurate, 2017 It will be the second year in a row that drug deaths exceed the US casualties of the Vietnam War.
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