The state that ranks at the top of most hospitalization for opioid use is Maryland. According to newly released data from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the state is amid an opioid crisis, with many victims of drug overdose.
The report includes a decade’s worth of statistics involving overdose, complication and opioid withdrawal. Tens of thousands of people are treated in emergency rooms or admitted to state hospitals every year.
In 2015, 1,259 deaths related to fatal drug and alcohol overdoses was reported in Maryland. In the first 9 months of 2016, the state had reported 1,468 fatal overdoses.
In 2014, the rate of hospital admissions was 362 for every 100,000 residents in Maryland, exceeding the national average of 225. Iowa’s rate of 44 is eight times lower than that of Maryland.
Health officials are not surprised by the ranking, since they are familiar with the grip that painkillers have on Marylanders, especially Baltimoreans. Some of the officials said Maryland’s numbers might be even higher, because of the state’s comprehensive hospital reporting standards.
Wide-ranging hospital data from billing records is collected by Maryland Health Services. This data is utilized to set hospital prices, an arrangement that requires extensive accounting. Maryland looks worse compared to the other states that voluntarily report billing data to the federal agency, including 46 states and Washington, D.C.
The federal data actually shows the rate of emergency room visits was 288 per 100,000 Marylanders. This number exceeds the national average by nearly 178. The data also shows males, females, and people of all backgrounds and ages were affected by the drug epidemic in Maryland.
While federal researchers weren’t surprised by the high rates, they where shocked by the heavy concentration in the Baltimore area. Many other states showed opioid addition growing more rapidly or at least more evenly in non-urban areas.
Baltimore, the state’s only large metropolitan area, is the hardest hit by the epidemic. The opioid-related emergency visits were 977 per every 100,000 residents. In big-city regions throughout the country, the average was 177.
Maryland’s Medicaid program no longer allows patients suffering opioid withdrawal symptoms to be admitted after an emergency room visit. Maryland hospitals operate under an agreement that is unique to other medical facilities, switching emphasis to health outcomes from fee-for-service. This agreement eliminates the need to admit patients, whom may not need it.
According to the chief of division of chemical dependence at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Dr. Michael Fingerhood, naloxone can mitigate harsh withdrawal symptoms, lessening the need for hospital admissions.
Opioid-addicted patients are directed to treatment programs, where they can be properly treated for substance abuse. The University of Maryland Medical System has begun starting patients on buprenorphine-based treatments, before they are discharged from the emergency room.