Opioid overdose

Published 5:32 pm Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The 5,295 opioid overdose hospital emergency department (ED) visits through November 30 exceeded the total visits (4,103) for all of 2016 in North Carolina, reported Sherani Jagroep, a public health analyst in the state Department of Health and Human Services.

There were 390 opioid diagnosis overdose ED visits in November compared to 328 in November 2016.  The majority were white (82%), male (61%) between the ages 25 to 34 (36%).

There were 258 heroin diagnosis overdose ED visits last month compared to 213 in November 2016. This accounts for 66 percent of all opioid diagnosis overdose ED visits for November 2017. The majority were white (87%), male (66%) between the ages 25 to 34 (43%).

The highest rates of opioid overdose ED visits, as a percentage of population, occurred in Lee, Wayne, and Cumberland counties.

The only county east of I-95 with 10 or more cases was Pitt with 13 cases.

Data are suppressed for counties with fewer than 10 cases, and the update contains no report for Tyrrell County.

Jagroep explained that the data are specific to each patient’s county of residence; thus inhabitants of Tyrrell County, which has no hospital emergency department, would be added to Tyrrell County’s count regardless of where they presented for treatment.

The November update of opioid overdose emergency department (ED) visits distinguishes between a broad definition of opioid overdose visits which include prescription opioids, heroin, and other synthetic narcotics, and more specifically, a subset of heroin overdose ED visits.

Jagroep cautioned that ED visit data are provisional and should not be considered final. There may be data quality issues affecting the counts, and some hospitals use non-specific poisoning codes rather than specific opioid poisoning codes.

County-specific data that Jagroep furnished show 26 opiate poisoning hospitalizations of North Carolina residents in Dare County between 2004 and 2016, 20 in Currituck County, and unspecified numbers, but fewer than 10, in Hyde and Tyrrell counties. The numbers of cases in counties having one or more cases but fewer than 10 cases per year were suppressed.

Opiate poisoning deaths of N.C. residents in Dare County in 2016 were five, with 76 deaths from 1999 through 2016 and an annual range of 1-9 during that time period.

Deaths in Currituck County in 2016 were five, with 25 in the 1999-2016 period and an annual range of 0-5.

There were no deaths in Hyde County in 2016, but three recorded in 1999-2016 with a range of 0-1 per year during that time period.

Tyrrell County recorded two deaths in 2016, a total of four in the 1999-2016 period, with a yearly range of 0-2 deaths.