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According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, overdoses from opioids increased by about 30 percent in 2016. Opioids (including prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl) killed more than 42,000 people in 2016, more than any year on record. More concerning is the fact that 40 percent of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.

The increase of overdoses seen in hospital emergency rooms occurred between the third quarter of 2016 and the third quarter of 2017 throughout the U.S.; some areas had higher increases and a few reported declines. The highest increase in overdoses was in the Midwest, jumping 69.7 percent, which was driven in large part to an increase of 109 in Wisconsin. Overdoses increased 40.3 percent in the West, 21.3 percent in the Northeast, 20.2 percent in the Southwest and 14 percent in the Southeast, according to the CDC.

“We have an emergency on our hands,” said acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat. “The fast-moving opioid overdose epidemic continues and is accelerating.” The increase included every age group of adults in both men and women; Schuchat said the latest data could be underestimated because many people who overdose do not end up in an emergency room. “It might be even worse,” she said.

The Great Plains QIN is working with stakeholders, healthcare providers and communities across the region to address the opioid crisis. The Medication Safety Team has hosted a variety of educational events ranging from managing chronic pain naturally to developing a state pain guidance document. Click here to review recordings of past events.