Bad News Regarding Opioids in Mass.

At its Wednesday meeting, the Health Policy Commission (HPC) released data confirming what providers see each day from the opioid crisis in Massachusetts. HPC data shows that from 2000 to 2015, the opioid-related death rate in Massachusetts quadrupled, and by 2015 it was more than twice the national average. (That’s 23 opioid-related deaths per 100,000 population in Massachusetts versus 9.7 in the U.S.) In 2014, Massachusetts had the highest rate of opioid-related emergency department (ED) visits in the U.S. and the second highest rate of opioid-related inpatient stays.

Between 2014 and 2015, the number of opioid-related hospital (ED and inpatient) discharges grew by 18%. Young adults experienced the sharpest increase – 192% from 2011 to 2015.

On Thursday, The Boston Globe had a dramatic news account about the prevalence of fentanyl in Massachusetts and New England. Fentanyl – about 40 times more powerful than heroin – is the leading cause of opioid deaths in Massachusetts, which ranks behind New Hampshire in the per capita deaths caused by the drug.
Providers across the state have been working within their regions and with the state to identify best practices to improve prescribing practices and implement care management services for patents upon discharge.  MHA’s Substance Use Disorder Prevention and Treatment Task Force (SUDPTTF) has created guidance for opioid management within hospital EDs and throughout hospital settings, including hospital owned/affiliated clinics or physician practices. That information and more is here.  The data HPC released supports the need for continued work to address the lack of community-based services and supports for communities.