THURSDAY, May 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Emergency department patients with nonfatal opioid or sedative/hypnotic drug overdose have exceptionally high risks for death in the following year, according to a study published online May 7 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Sidra Goldman-Mellor, Ph.D., from the University of California Merced, and colleagues analyzed longitudinally linked emergency department patient record and mortality data for all California residents presenting to a licensed emergency department at least once from 2009 to 2011 with nonfatal unintentional opioid overdose, sedative/hypnotic overdose, or neither (a 5 percent random sample of patients).

The researchers found that following the index emergency department visit, unintentional overdose death rates per 100,000 person years were 1,863 following opioid overdose, 342 following sedative/hypnotic overdose, and 31 for reference patients without an index overdose (standardized mortality ratios, 106.1, 24.5, and 2.6, respectively). Suicide mortality rates were 319 per 100,000 following opioid overdose, 174 for sedative/hypnotic overdose, and 32 for reference visits. Natural-causes mortality rates per 100,000 were 8,058 (opioid overdose patients), 17,301 (sedative/hypnotic overdose patients), and 3,097 (reference patients).

“Emergency department-based interventions offer potential for reducing these patients’ overdose and other mortality risks,” the authors write.

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