The August 2017 issue of Annals of the American Thoracic Society included this article by Stevens and colleagues.
Rationale: Opioid abuse is increasing, but its impact on critical care resources in the United States is unknown.
Objective: We hypothesized that there would be a rising need for critical care among opioid-associated overdoses in the United States.
Methods: We analyzed all adult admissions using a retrospective cohort study from 162 hospitals in 44 states discharged between January 1, 2009 – September 31, 2015 to describe the incidence of intensive care unit (ICU) admissions for opioid overdose over this time. Admissions were identified using the Clinical Data Base/Resource ManagerTM of Vizient, Inc, the successor to the University Health System Consortium.
Results: Our primary outcome was opioid-associated overdose admissions to the ICU. The outcome was defined based on previously validated ICD-9 codes. Our secondary outcomes were in-hospital death and markers of ICU resources. The final cohort included 22,783,628 admissions; 4,145,068 required ICU care. There were 52.4 ICU admissions for overdose per 10,000 ICU admissions over the entire study (95% confidence intervals: 51.8-53.0 per 10,000 ICU admissions). During this time period, opioid overdose admissions requiring intensive care increased 34%, from 44 per 10,000 (95% CI: 43 to 46 per 10,000) to 59 per 10,000 ICU admissions (95% CI: 57 to 61 per 10,000, p<0.0001). The mortality rate of patients with ICU admissions with overdoses averaged 7% (95% CI: 7.0-7.6%) but increased to 10% in 2015 (95% CI: 8.8-10.8%).
Conclusions: The number of deaths of ICU patients with opioid overdoses increased substantially in the seven years of our study, reflecting increases in both the incidence and mortality of this condition. Our findings raise the need for a national approach to developing safe strategies to care for patients with overdose in the ICU, to providing coordinated resources in the hospital for patients and families, and to helping survivors maintain sobriety on discharge.
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