As the U.S. problem of opioid abuse continues to grow, recent research provides new insights into the significant impact of opioid-related hospitalizations, infectious complications, and healthcare costs.
Using discharge data from inpatient hospitalizations, researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the VA Boston Healthcare System found that hospitalizations related to opioid abuse or dependence increased significantly between 2002 and 2012. While the total number of hospitalizations nationwide remained largely consistent during this period, opioid-related hospitalizations increased 72% to 520,275.
Infection is a serious complication of intravenous drug abuse and a major cause of illness and death among intravenous drug users. In agreement with this fact, the research indicates that opioid-related hospitalizations with serious infection rose 91% to 6,535.
The cost associated with the rising number of opioid-related hospitalizations has a significant impact on the U.S. healthcare system. In 2012, the estimated total charge per hospitalization to opioid abuse or dependence was more than $28,000 and more than $107,000 for hospitalizations due to opioid abuse or dependence with associated infection.
These findings are consistent with previous research that evaluated the incidence of emergency department visits for nonmedical use of opioid and the rise in accidental deaths as a result of opioid overdose.
Francisco J. Rojas, Ph.D.
Med Lab Observ, June 2016.