The number of people dying from opioid overdoses in hospital intensive care units (ICU) has nearly doubled in recent years, and the cost of treating overdose victims in ICUs has skyrocketed, according to an analysis from 2009 to 2015 published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.
The study, conducted by lead researcher Jennifer P. Stevens, M.D. of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, is one of the first to quantify the impact of the country’s opioid epidemic on ICUs. Stevens calls the trend a “new level of crisis.”
According to the research, admissions to hospital ICUs related to opioid overdose jumped 34 percent from January 2009 to September 2015. The death rate among overdose patients treated in ICUs also increased, from an average of 7 percent in 2009, to 10 percent in 2015. These patients also had several common comorbidities including aspiration pneumonia, septic shock, rhabdomyolysis and anoxic brain injury. One in 10 opioid overdose patients needed medical ventilation.
In turn, the cost of treating these patients also increased. The average cost of caring for an opioid overdose patient in the ICU more than doubled from $58,500 in 2009 to $92,400 in 2015, according to a retrospective analysis of hospital billing records.
“This study tells us that the opioid epidemic has made people sicker and killed more people, in spite of all the care we provide in the ICU, including mechanical ventilation, acute dialysis, life support and round-the-clock care,” Stevens told Medpage Today. “These patients are coming in to ICUs with incredibly complex problems, and despite a very resource-intensive level of care, we aren’t able to save a lot of them.”
Source: Medpage Today