Agency: Hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions down for over­doses

The Republican Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By Jon o’con­nELL Staff writer

By one mea­sure in the fight against drug ad­dic­tion, the ta­bles are turn­ing.

Hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions for opi­oid drug over­doses — that is, from heroin and pre­scrip­tion pain medicine — dropped by 35 per­cent in Lack­awanna County and by 1 per­cent in Luzerne County from 2016 to 2017, ac­cord­ing to data re­leased to­day by the Penn­syl­va­nia Health Care Cost Con­tain­ment Coun­cil, or PHC4.

The fact that hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions are fall­ing, how­ever, of­fers a false sense of se­cu­rity, Su­san Kramer, di­rec­tor of nurs­ing oper­a­tions for Geisinger North­east, said.

“Yes, it does look like some of the hos­pi­tal­iza­tions are go­ing down,” she said. “But if you look at the mor­tal­ity rates, they say that the mor­tal­ity rates are in­creas­ing.”

Statewide, one in 10 ad­mit­ted for a heroin over­dose died last year. Around one in 11 peo­ple ad­mit­ted in 2016 died.

For pain medicine over­dose, one in 20 died in the hos­pi­tal, up from one in 35.

Kramer sug­gested that’s be­cause more peo­ple, know­ingly or in ig­no­rance, mix drugs or take them cut with other sub­stances such as fen­tanyl or car­fen­tanil, to de­liver cock­tails more pow­er­ful than a sin­gle drug on its own, a phe­nom­e­non called poly­sub­stance abuse.

The av­er­age heroin over­dose pa­tient was 33 years old. The av­er­age pain med­i­ca­tion over­dose pa­tient was 53.

Be­tween 2011 and 2016, hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions in­creased about 24 per­cent each year, ac­cord­ing to the PHC4.

PHC4, an in­de­pen­dent state agency charged with pro­duc­ing data that can help curb health care costs, es­ti­mates that over­dose ad­mis­sions amounted to $32 mil­lion in hos­pi­tal pay­ments last year.

“Th­ese find­ings con­tinue to stress the alarm­ing im­pact the opi­oid prob­lem has on Penn­syl­va­nia fam­i­lies,” Joe Martin, PHC4’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, said in a state­ment.

For heroin over­doses, the statewide ad­mis­sion rate grew by nearly 13 per­cent dur­ing the study pe­riod, the agency found. The num­ber rep­re­sents the small­est in­crease in re­cent years and, on its face, the new data could of­fer a glint of hope that the runaway over­dose epi­demic is start­ing to level off.

Statewide, the num­ber of hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions for over­dose on pain medicine, drugs such as oxy­codone and hy­drocodone, dropped 2.2 per­cent dur­ing the study pe­riod.

“That may not be a good re­flec­tion of how many pa­tients were ac­tu­ally brought to the emer­gency depart­ment and then re­fused care af­ter they got to the emer­gency depart­ment,” Penn­syl­va­nia Am­bu­lance Oper­a­tions Man­ager Bruce Beau­vais said. “I know the ma­jor­ity of pa­tients that over­dose typ­i­cally don’t even move beyond the ER af­ter they’ve been treated.”

Penn­syl­va­nia Am­bu­lance tracked about 250 doses of nalox­one, medicine that re­verses the ef­fects of an

opi­oid over­dose, ad­min­is­tered in 2017 in Lack­awanna County. That same year, hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions topped out at only 48 for the county, 26 fewer than the year be­fore.

Penn­syl­va­nia Am­bu­lance pro­vides emer­gency nalox­one kits, known com­mer­cially as Nar­can, to nu­mer­ous law en­force­ment and emer­gency agen­cies around Lack­awanna County, but not all of them.

His crews take all pa­tients saved with nalox­one to the emer­gency room whether they want to go or not.

From Jan­uary through May this year, 101 pa­tients en­tered the emer­gency room at Geisinger Wy­oming Val­ley Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Plains Town­ship for an over­dose. Of them, only 31 were ad­mit­ted, Kramer said.

Data for Geisinger Com­mu­nity Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Scran­ton have not been an­a­lyzed yet, she said, adding that, given sim­i­lar pa­tient pop­u­la­tions, she ex­pects sim­i­lar re­sults.

“We know that it is preva­lent, still, in the com­mu­nity,” she said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.