A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that opioid prescribing has dropped is encouraging but contrasts with a separate federal report showing that there has been a startling increase in the per capita rate of opioid-related hospitalizations among females.
The CDC "Vital Signs" report indicates that per capita opioid prescribing peaked in 2010. Still, other data say the problem is not improving, including the same CDC report, which notes that rates vary widely from county to county.
In addition, another report, a statistical brief from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality showed the rate of female inpatient hospital stays per 100,000 population rising a cumulative 75.3 percent among women between 2005 and 2014. That brings the rate for females to 224.1 per 100,000 population in 2014, which is just shy of the 225 per 100,000 rate registered among males in the AHRQ data.
The data may reveal a new facet of the nation’s broad-reaching opioid epidemic: that women may need to be cared for in different ways than they traditionally have.
The opioid problem already is being addressed in a variety of ways by hospitals and health systems. For example, Norton Healthcare in Louisville, Ky., is using a multipronged approach to tackling the evolving problem, according to Russell Cox, president and CEO. Kentucky is one of the states that has been hit hard by the epidemic, and Matt Bevin, Kentucky’s governor, outlined earlier this year the six ways the Bluegrass State is fighting the scourge.
The AHRQ brief notes that Massachusetts has the highest rate of opioid inpatient stays across all patient age and sex groups. At the same drug abuse summit that Bevin spoke at in April, Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) said the situation in the state could serve as a wake-up call for the rest of the nation.
“Fentanyl is coming, and it is coming like a storm toward our country,” Markey said at the conference.