Ben-Gurion University Study Says Demand for Opioid-Related Treatments Exceed the Supply

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A new study produced by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheva, Israel, revealed overdose deaths in the U.S. have doubled in the past seven years, and rising acute care costs and hospitalizations are heavily taxing health care systems, according to a press release.

The study, which was also conducted by Harvard Medical School and the University of Chicago, quantifies the impact of opioid abuse — an epidemic that has hit the Greater Philadelphia area in some years — on critical care resources in the U.S.

The study, The Critical Care Crisis of Opioid Overdoses in the United States, discovered the demand for treatment is greater than the resources available for patients.

Researchers took data from about 23 million hospital admissions from 162 hospitals in 44 states between Jan. 1, 2009 and Sept. 31, 2015.

Of the 4 million who required acute care, 21,705 patients were hospitalized for opioid overdoses. Those who survive often receive pricey renal replacement therapy or dialysis.

“We found a 34 percent increase in overdose-related ICU admissions while ICU opioid deaths nearly doubled during that same period,” said Lena Novack in the release, a lecturer in BGU’s School of Public Health.

Mortality rates and number of hospital admissions continued to rise, and the average cost of care per overdose admission increased by 58 percent.

The study also found that Massachusetts and Indiana had the highest amount of opioid hospitalizations in the U.S., while Pennsylvania showed a drastic increase in overdoses, nearly doubling admissions since 2009.

However, Novack said their estimates may actually be on the low side.

“Our findings raise the need for a national approach to developing safe strategies to care for ICU overdose patients, to providing coordinated resources in the hospital for patients and families, and to helping survivors maintain sobriety following discharge,” the researchers concluded in the study.