Map: The states with the most opioid-related ED visits

Rates of opioid-related ED and inpatient visits skyrocketed between 2005 and 2014, with Massachusetts posting the highest rates in the country as of 2014, according to data compiled by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

AHRQ based its analysis on diagnosis codes tracked at the state level. In total the analysis included data for 30 states.

The data show that Massachusetts had the highest rate of opioid-related ED visits, with 450.2 per 100,000 residents in 2014 . Maryland came in at a distant second, reporting 300.7 per 100,000 people.

However, Maryland reported the most opioid-related inpatient stays, at 403.8 per 100,000 people, with Massachusetts following at a close second, with 393.7 per 100,000 people. According to the Boston Globe, the national average is 224.6 inpatient stays per 100,000 residents. 

Traci Green, deputy director of the Injury Prevention Center at Boston Medical Center, said the number of opioid-related visits have increased sharply in recent years because of the growing use of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.

But experts also said the high rates of hospitalization in Massachusetts also indicated that efforts to help people—including boosting public awareness about naloxone, urging people to call 911 in the case of an overdose, and adding new treatment beds—have been successful. Other factors, according to experts, could include the Massachusetts' near-universal rate of health care coverage and the availability of hospitals within the state. 

A national trend

According to the report, the national rate of opioid-related inpatient stays rose 64.1 percent between 2005 and 2014, while the rate of ED visits increased 99.4 percent.

However, state-level trends have varied significantly. For instance, the rate of opioid-related ED visits varied more than five-fold across states, with Iowa reporting the lowest rate at 45.1 per 100,000 people and Nebraska coming in with the second-lowest rate at 52.8 per 100,000 people. Meanwhile, the rate of opioid-related inpatient stays varied more than 10-fold across states, with Iowa reporting the lowest rate at 72.7 per 100,000 people and Nebraska again tailing at 78.6 per 100,000 people.

According to CDC, 183,000 Americans have died as the result of opioid-related overdoses in the past 16 years (Zimmerman, Becker's Hospital Review, 4/3; Rocheleau, Boston Globe, 4/3; Brodwin, Business Insider, 2/28; Agency for Healthcare and Quality report, January 2017).



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