Massachusetts Leads The Nation In Opioid-Related ER Trips

Will My Insurance Pay for Rehab?

Sponsored Legal Stuff - This is an advertisement for Service Industries, Inc., part of a network of commonly owned substance abuse treatment service providers. Responding to this ad will connect you to one of Service Industries, Inc.’s representatives to discuss your insurance benefits and options for obtaining treatment at one of its affiliated facilities only. Service Industries, Inc. Service Industries, Inc. is unable to discuss the insurance benefits or options that may be available at any unaffiliated treatment center or business. If this advertisement appears on the same web page as a review of any particular treatment center or business, the contact information (including phone number) for that particular treatment center or business may be found at the bottom of the review.

Massachusetts Leads The Nation In Opioid-Related ER Trips

By The Fix staff 06/19/17

It’s essential that people who are addicted to heroin and other opioids access comprehensive opioid treatment.

Image: 
Hanging saline bag in focus on blurry hospital in the background

Massachusetts has the highest rate of opioid-related emergency room visits out of 30 states that were surveyed for a recent US Department of Health and Human Services report. The finding highlights how the opioid epidemic continues to affect Bay State residents and other New Englanders.

In Massachusetts there were more than 450 emergency room visits for opioid-related reasons per 100,000 residents in 2014. The state’s spokesman for the state’s Health Policy Commission said that preliminary data shows that the rate of ER visits likely increased during 2015, along with the rate of opioid-related inpatient stays, according to The Boston Globe. The report showed that the rates of opioid-related emergency room visits were 71 percent higher in 2014 than they were in 2009.

The continuing rise of opioid-related medical emergencies and deaths underscores the needs for quality opioid treatment in Massachusetts.

People who are familiar with the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts said that the emergency room statistics represent progress while also highlighting the severity of the problem.

“The number of deaths [from opioids in Massachusetts] would have been much higher without the push to get people to get help,” said Traci Green, deputy director of the Injury Prevention Center at Boston Medical Center. Public awareness about overdose risk and the benefits of calling 911 during an overdose may have increased hospital visits, she said. At the same time, the prevalence of fentanyl in the state has increased the number of people overdosing.

“If anything, these data are just the tip of the fentanyl effects,” Green said. “Fentanyl is what is driving everything right now.”

Many times people are sent to hospital emergencies rooms in crisis when other treatment options are not available.

“Many people are told to go to the emergency room when they can’t find treatment somewhere else,” said Joanne Peterson, founder and executive director of Taunton-based Learn to Cope, a nonprofit support network for families of addicts.

In order to avoid emergency room visits, it’s essential that people who are addicted to heroin and other opioids access comprehensive opioid treatment. Treatment facilities that utilize insurance in Massachusetts are better able to address the needs of people detoxing from opioids, treating co-occurring disorders and seeking to achieve long-term sobriety.

“Hospitals are still overwhelmed with people waiting for help,” Peterson said. “We still have a lot of work to do. The good news is there’s more and more people in different sectors working on this.”

Nationally, the average rate for opioid-related emergency room visits was 225 per 100,000 residents, an increase of 65.5 percent between 2009 and 2014. In addition to Massachusetts, other New England states had high rates of emergency room visits. Rhode Island had the third-highest rate (about 298 visits) and Vermont was sixth (about 224 visits). Data for Maine and New Hampshire, which has one of the highest rates of heroin overdose in the country, were not included in the report.

Massachusetts has worked to address the opioid epidemic in the state. A new organization called RIZE Massachusetts is seeking to raise $50 million for treatment and prevention efforts. General Electric, Partners HealthCare, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts are all involved in the effort.

“This is a relentless foe,” Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said at a RIZE Massachusetts event. “Relentless. If we aren’t willing to be relentless in response to what we’re up against, our chances for success will be significantly diminished.”

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
Disqus comments
the-fix-logo.png

The Fix staff consists of the editor-in-chief and publisher, a senior editor, an associate editor, an editorial coordinator, and several contributing editors and writers. Articles in Professional Voices, Ask an Expert, and similar sections are written by doctors, psychologists, clinicians, professors and other experts from universities, hospitals, government agencies and elsewhere. For contact and other info, please visit our About Us page.

Disqus comments