Efforts To Curb Rx Misuse in Calif. Could Be Fueling Heroin Use
A significant rise in the number of patients being treated for heroin overdoses in California hospitals could be attributed in part to increased efforts to stem prescription drug misuse, Payers & Providers reports.
Details of Heroin Overdoses
The number of patients being treated for heroin overdoses increased by more than 90% between 2005 and 2013, according to new data from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.
The data show that the number of patients treated at hospital emergency departments for heroin overdoses rose from 1,284 cases, including 298 admissions, in 2005 to 2,449 cases, including 541 admissions, in 2013.
In the first half of 2014, California hospitals saw 1,325 patients in the ED and admitted 301 patients for heroin overdoses.
Efforts to Curb Rx Drug Misuse
Roneet Lev, director of operations at San Diego-based Scripps Mercy Medical Center's ED, attributed the rise in heroin overdoses in part to efforts to stem prescription drug misuse.
For example, Kaiser Permanente is collaborating with the Hospital Association of Southern California, the local chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services to have EDs in the area:
- Prescribe painkillers in limited amounts;
- Decline to replace lost or stolen painkiller prescriptions; and
- Use the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, or CURES, to determine whether patients are shopping around for prescription painkillers.
Individuals who misuse prescription drugs, such as Oxycodone, often turn to heroin as a lower-cost option when they can no longer obtain opioid pills legally, according to experts (Shinkman, Payers & Providers, 3/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.