ESO, a data and software company serving emergency medical services (EMS), fire departments and hospitals, today released national opioid overdose data based on approximately 15,000 records from its ESO Electronic Health Record (EHR) platform. Information for the 15,000 records was collected voluntarily between January 1 – October 31, 2018 and looks at the source of the overdose, the reasons for the overdose and the patient’s interest in rehabilitation.
“Overdoses in general, and opioids in particular, continue to be an epidemic throughout the country in both rural and urban communities,” said Dr. Brent Myers, Chief Medical Officer for ESO. “Through the specialty Surveillance Form for Overdose, EMS agencies are capturing pertinent information on scene to better understand how and why patients are experiencing overdose, and whether they have any interest or current enrollment in rehabilitation programs. As a nation, we are continuing to improve response to opioid overdose but, at the end of day, our best plan is to move patients from addiction to wellness via evidence-based rehabilitation programs. Ultimately, these data will provide insight for EMS agencies to build focused and deliberate programs in their communities to fight this epidemic and improve health and safety for the entire community.”
Key Findings Include:
Most opioid overdoses involve illicit drugs: The majority of opioid overdoses (94 percent) involve illicit drugs, with only 4 percent being prescribed. This is in contrast to overall overdoses where prescriptions account for nearly 20 percent of the overdoses.
Most opioid overdoses are unintentional: In particular, those who overdosed on opioids were much less likely to do so for suicidal reasons (2 percent) than all overdose patients (11 percent). Nearly 98 percent of opioid overdoses are unintentional.
Nearly a third of opioid overdose patients are interested in rehabilitation: Nearly a third (29 percent) of opioid overdose patients who were willing and able to answer EMS providers’ questions regarding rehabilitation were interested in a program in some way, whether as a first time or repeat participant. This is nearly ten percentage points higher than all overdose patients (20 percent).
Opioid overdoses are trending down: EMS responses to opioid overdoses peaked in July 2018 but have fallen steadily since and continue to trend downward. While this has yet to reach statistical significance, the trend is encouraging and bears monitoring.
“What these data show are that opioid overdoses are very different from other types of overdoses,” added Myers. “While these data are observational, this is potentially some of the first good news regarding this epidemic. The focus on appropriate prescribing practices appears to have reduced the incidence of prescription-based opioid overdose when compared to other types of overdose. While we suspect some of the downward trend in opioid overdose incidents may be due to self or buddy treatment with the widely distributed intranasal naloxone kits, the trend toward a decrease in opioid overdose events is encouraging and, if it continues, may signal that the entirety of the national effort is beginning to produce the desired outcome. We will continue to monitor these data in the months ahead.”