Magazine article USA TODAY

Emergency Room Visits Soaring

Magazine article USA TODAY

Emergency Room Visits Soaring

Article excerpt

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Washington, D.C., unveiled findings from its new Drug Abuse Warning Network showing almost 2,000,000 drug-related emergency department visits in a recent 12-month period. Of these, nearly 1,300.000 were associated with drug misuse or abuse.

Thirty percent of the 1,300,000 drug-overdose visits involved only illicit drugs; 25%, prescription or over-the-counter medications; eight percent, alcohol in patients under age 21; 15%, illicit drugs and alcohol; eight percent, illicit drugs and pharmaceuticals; and 14%, illicit drugs, pharmaceuticals, and alcohol all in the same individual.

The survey is considered a new baseline for future years, and therefore these estimates cannot be compared to those from prior years. Changes from the old survey include an expanded definition of emergency department visits related to recent drug use and a new sample of hospitals that covers the entire U.S.

"Most of the 1,300,000 visits to emergency rooms involving drug or alcohol misuse or abuse are an opportunity for the health care system to intervene and direct patients to appropriate follow-up care," SAMHSA administrator Charles Curie points out. …

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