Death rate quadrupled among those hospitalized for opioids — Medicare patients big driver

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People attend a candlelight vigil for victims of drug addiction on August 24, 2017 in Staten Island, New York. Dozens of Staten Island residents attended the evening vigil which celebrated the lives and gave remembrance to those that have died from drug addiction. According to the Department of Health, at least 107 people died from opioid overdoses in the borough last year, the highest number on record and a 35 percent increase from 2015.

The death rate for people hospitalized for opioid-related conditions more than quadrupled from the year 2000 even as the total number of such hospitalizations held steady, according to research published Monday.

During the same time period, there was no significant change in the rate of hospital deaths for people admitted in connection with other kinds of drugs besides opioids.

The same Health Affairs report found that patients admitted for poisoning from opioid or heroin from 2000 through 2014 were more likely to be white adults, age 50 to 64, Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities and people from low-income areas.

The research comes amid an ongoing epidemic of abuse of opioids, including prescription painkillers, heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

“More than 64,000 drug overdose deaths were estimated to have occurred in 2016,” noted Dr. Zirui Song, the Harvard Medical School assistant professor who wrote the Health Affairs report.

Song’s analysis found that since 2000, the total volume of cases of hospitalizations related to opioids “remained relatively stable.”

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