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Some Emergency Departments See Drop in Heroin Overdoses

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
<p style="font-size: 0.9rem;font-style: italic;"><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/35294562@N00/3049812708">"High School Photography"</a><span>by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/35294562@N00">nadja.robot</a></span> is licensed under <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/?ref=ccsearch&atype=html" style="margin-right: 5px;">CC BY-NC 2.0</a><a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/?ref=ccsearch&atype=html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="display: inline-block;white-space: none;opacity: .7;margin-top: 2px;margin-left: 3px;height: 22px !important;"><img style="height: inherit;margin-right: 3px;display: inline-block;" src="https://ccsearch.creativecommons.org/static/img/cc_icon.svg" /><img style="height: inherit;margin-right: 3px;display: inline-block;" src="https://ccsearch.creativecommons.org/static/img/cc-by_icon.svg" /><img style="height: inherit;margin-right: 3px;display: inline-block;" src="https://ccsearch.creativecommons.org/static/img/cc-nc_icon.svg" /></a></p>Alana Vivolo-Kantor, PhD, MPH

Behavioral Scientist, Injury Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This study analyzed emergency department (ED) data from 23 states funded by CDC’s Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance (ESOOS) program to understand changes in suspected heroin overdose from 2017 to 2018. Overall there was a significant yearly decrease of 21.5% in heroin overdose ED visits in the 23 ESOOS states.

  • Overall, the 23 ESOOS states saw a significant yearly decrease of 21.5% in heroin overdose emergency department visits.
  • Ten states witnessed significant yearly decreases ranging from 12.6% (Massachusetts) to 67.5% (District of Columbia).
  • Decreases occurred mostly in eastern states (District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Wisconsin).
  • Three states witnessed significant yearly increases (Indiana, Illinois, and Utah).

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report? 

  • Monitoring overdose fatalities is difficult as a result of time lags in reporting; however, emergency department (ED) data can be used to rapidly detect changes in overdose trends.
  • This study showcases the importance of using emergency department data as an early warning system for communities so that they can better monitor and respond to overdoses. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

  • Public health agencies need support to develop rapid surveillance of local trends with a standardized national definition of suspected drug overdose, including heroin, that meets their needs
  • Real-time data on overdoses could be used to guide prevention initiatives, such as distributing naloxone, linking patients to peer navigators, and initiating medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

  • The findings in this report demonstrate the local and dynamic nature of this epidemic, and highlights the need for timely regional, state, and local information.
  • No disclosures.


American Journal of Public Health (AJPH)
Suspected Heroin Overdoses in US Emergency Departments, 2017–2018

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD