Overdoses in the Emergency Room

VHHA’s Research Corner previously examined hospitalization overdose trends. We now turn our attention to emergency rooms across the state to see if any patterns emerge. As seen in the graphic below, there is only one peak in the distribution of visits by age related to overdoses among patients treated in emergency rooms. In the ambulatory setting, the peak age for overdoses is during the teen years. Teens aged 15-19 account for more than twice the number of visits of any other age group. These patients are 10 years younger than the average patient hospitalized for an overdose. As with hospitalized cases, benzodiazepine plays a major role in many of these poisonings. As seen in the chart below, the illicit narcotic heroin accounts for approximately 6 percent of all emergency department visits for overdose. The majority of emergency department visits for overdose occur as a result of prescription medication abuse and misuse. (1/13)