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Prescription Drug Overdose Death

Posted on June 10 2015

Roughly 60% of fatal drug overdose occurrences are from the misuse of prescription drugs. In a recent report, it was found that there are some warning signs that medical professionals can watch for which may help identify at risk individuals. A report by the National Institutes of Health indicates that emergency room visit history can be indicative of the potential for drug overdose death. According to the review of over 5,400 people who visited emergency rooms between 2006-2010, it was found that individuals with more frequent visits were at increased risk. These individuals are often associated with doctor-shopping where they seek out substances from multiple providers to maintain a supply and mask their usage. These individuals are likely to misuse and abuse prescription drugs leading to overdose death. It was also found that many of these individuals left the medical facility early against medical advice. If an individual visited the emergency room 3 times within a year, they were 17 times more likely to die from overdose death, and those with four or more visits were 48 times more likely. Identifying these at risk individuals may help medical professionals to address and help reduce the occurrence of prescription drug overdose deaths. Actions including counseling, treatment referrals, and even providing patients with take-home naloxone (narcan) kits could help prevent unnecessary overdose death.


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