New research presented this week at the American Thoracic Society’s annual meeting suggests that the ongoing opioid crisis is making waves across the country’s intensive care units (ICU) every bit as much as it is inside people’s homes.
The authors analyzed hospital admissions from 2011 to 2015 for adults over the age of 18 in a nationwide healthcare system, Vizient, Inc. Out of 272 hospitals, there were 17.6 million admissions throughout the study period, with 41,369 related to an opioid overdose. While that figure may seem miniscule in the grand scheme of things, the rate of opioid-related admissions has steadily increased 42 percent since 2009. The percentage of people who died from their overdoses also increased, from 3.1 percent in 2011 to 5.1 percent in 2015, and a similar rise in mortality was seen when looking only at ICU admissions. In 2011, there were 3.7 overdose deaths per every 10,000 ICU admissions compared to 7.3 deaths in 2015.