Opioid overdose hospital visits down in May

Published 7:51 pm Monday, June 25, 2018

The NC Division of Public Health reported 451 opioid overdose hospital emergency department visits in May compared with 484 in May 2017, the second consecutive month that the current year has trailed the previous year.

Fewer than five visits each were reported for residents in Dare and Pasquotank counties. Other northeastern counties reported none.

Eighty-three percent of the persons examined were white, and whites make up 71% of the state’s population. Seven percent of visits were by blacks, who make up 10% of the population. Thirty-six percent of visits were by persons ages 25-34, and that demographic is about 15% of the population.

Of the 451 visits, 291 were diagnosed as heroin overdose, and that’s down from 329 in May 2017. Among the heroin overdoses, the majority were white (86%), male (63%), and ages 25-34 (43%).

The highest rates of opioid overdose emergency department visits occurred in Cumberland (12.2 per 100,000 residents), Robeson (9.0), and Davidson (6.1) counties.

Highest numbers of visits were 48 in Mecklenburg County, 40 in Cumberland, 20 each in Forsyth and Guilford, and 18 in Wake.

From January through May there were 1,350 opioid overdose reversals reported to the Division of Public Health, compared to 1,490 for the same period in 2017.

The Division also reported that from August 2013 through May 2018, the NC Harm Reduction Coalition distributed 81,091 reversal kits to community members and law enforcement agencies across North Carolina.

At the end of May there were 247 law enforcement agencies carrying naloxone, covering 90 counties, including Tyrrell.

From January 2015 through May 2018 law enforcement agencies reported 1,304 opioid overdose reversals to the state.

There are currently 1,913 confirmed opioid-related poisoning deaths for 2017, the state Office of Chief Medical Examiner reported.

Provisional data shows a 26% increase in opioid-related poisoning deaths in the first nine months of 2017; that is, 1,499 deaths compared to 1,190 in that period of 2016.

The chief medical examiner reported that 44.4% of autopsies performed in January-September 2017 have been confirmed as poisonings.