Nonfatal and fatal drug overdoses have recently increased. There are limited data describing the range of illicit, prescribed, and over-the-counter drugs involved in overdoses presenting to U.S. emergency departments (EDs).
Using 2018 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Nationwide ED Sample (NEDS) data, we calculated weighted counts and percentages by drug among overdose-related ED visits. Overdose-related ED visits were those having an International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM) drug poisoning code falling under parent codes T36-T50 (codes involving alcohol were not explicitly queried). We identified the top 30 mutually exclusive polydrug combinations and compared characteristics of visits by polydrug status.
In 2018, 908,234 ED visits had a T36-T50 drug poisoning code. The most frequently reported drugs involved were opioids (30.3% of visits; heroin: 15.2%), benzodiazepines (11.0%), stimulants (7.9%), other/unspecified antidepressants (7.1%), 4-aminophenol derivatives (6.6%), and other/unspecified drugs, medicaments, and biological substances (11.8%). Overdose was uncommon for most other drug classes (e.g., antibiotics). Polydrug visits were more likely to involve females (prevalence ratio [PR]: 1.14, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.12-1.16), be coded intentional self-harm (PR: 1.81, 95% CI: 1.77-1.85), and result in hospitalization (PR: 1.84, 95% CI: 1.79-1.89) or death (PR: 1.37, 95% CI: 1.22-1.53) compared to single-drug overdose-related visits. Benzodiazepines, opioids, and/or stimulants were most frequently involved in polydrug overdoses.
Opioids, benzodiazepines, and stimulants were most commonly reported in both single-drug and polydrug overdose-involved ED visits. Other drugs involved in overdoses included antidepressants and 4-aminophenol derivatives. Jurisdictions can use data on drugs involved in overdoses to better tailor prevention strategies to emerging needs.

Published by Elsevier Ltd.