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Opioid-related Emergency Department Visits and Hospitalizations Among Commercially Insured Individuals, 2009-2015

Kay, Cynthia, MD, MS*,†,‡; Bernstein, Joanne, MD; Fergestrom, Nicole, MS; Jackson, Jeffrey L., MD, MPH*,†,‡

doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000643
Original Articles

Objectives: Overall opioid prescribing rates have decreased since 2012, but opioid-involved deaths have not. This study describes the regional and overall trends of opioid-related emergency department visits (EDVs) and hospitalizations of commercially insured patients on chronic opioids and those on concurrent opioids and benzodiazepines.

Methods: Secondary data analysis from Truven Health MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters (MarketScan) database from 2009 to 2015 was used. Outcomes were geographic rates of opioid-related EDVs and hospitalizations and rates of concurrent benzodiazepine and opioid use.

Results: Rates of opioid-related EDVs and hospitalizations for patients on chronic opioids have decreased since 2009. Two thirds of those with opioid-related EDVs and nearly 3-quarters of those with an opioid-related hospitalization were coprescribed benzodiazepines. The North Central region had the highest proportion of individuals on chronic opioid therapy (2.7%) in 2015. However, the South had not only the highest rates of opioid-related EDVs (23/100,000 in 2015) and opioid-related hospitalizations (39/100,000 in 2015) but also the largest percentage of individuals on concurrent opioids and benzodiazepines (41%).

Discussion: Rates of opioid-related EDVs and hospitalizations, as well as concurrent opioid and benzodiazepine use, vary geographically. More research is needed to examine factors that impact regional variation and what influences the concurrent use of opioids and benzodiazepines.

*Zablocki VA Medical Center

Medical College of Wisconsin

Center for Patient Care and Outcomes Research, MCW, Milwaukee, WI

The information provided in this study does not represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government.

Supported by the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin—Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Program, Milwaukee, WI. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Cynthia Kay, MD, MS, 8701 W Watertown Plank Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226 (e-mail: ckay@mcw.edu).

Received March 2, 2018

Received in revised form July 2, 2018

Accepted August 2, 2018

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