AHRQ: Opioid-related hospitalizations, ER visit rates soar

Prescription and pills
The opioid abuse epidemic has led to increased ER visit rates and hospitalizations for both men and women. (Credit: Getty/Gti337)

Rates for opioid-related hospital stays and emergency department visits have skyrocketed over the past decade, according to a new report.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality tracked the data (PDF) between 2005 and 2014 and found that the rate of hospital stays and visits related to opioid abuse increased by 54.5% for men and 75.3% for women. Emergency department visits increased by an even wider margin in that same window, by 103% for men and 95% for women.

AHRQ also tracked increases by age, and found that the rate of opioid-related ED visits increased by 109% among people aged 25 to 44 and 108% among those aged 45 to 64. Among the younger group, that amounted to nearly 340 visits per 100,000 people by 2014.

But the figures varied between states, according to the report. In 2014, hospitalization rates for women were highest in Maryland, West Virginia and Massachusetts, exceeding 350 per 100,000 people. By contrast, the highest hospitalization rates for men were recorded in Maryland, New York and the District of Columbia, with each reporting rates higher than 440 per 100,000 people.

“As the report makes clear, over the past decade, opioid abuse has affected both sexes and age groups,” AHRQ director Gopal Khanna said in an announcement. “The crisis, however, looks different in different places.”

Maryland, one of the states hit hardest by the opioid abuse epidemic, has created prescribing guidelines for emergency rooms.

RELATED: Efforts to curb opioid epidemic remain top priority for CMS

The crisis is a major focus of the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies underneath it, including AHRQ, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the National Institutes of Health.

To help curb addiction, providers are taking steps to better connect patients in the emergency department with addiction treatment, and are devising new pain management strategies for emergency patients.