Jump in Number of Pharmaceutical-Related Emergencies
There was a 98.4 percent increase in emergency room visits associated with the misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals between 2004 and 2009, according to a new report from SAMHSA, Highlights of the 2009 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Findings on Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits. SAMHSA’s Drug Abuse Warning Network provides estimates of the number of emergency room admissions associated with particular drugs.
In 2009, there were nearly 4.6 million drug-related emergency department (ED) visits, of which about one half were attributed to adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals (49.8 percent or 2.3 million) and almost one half were attributed to drug misuse or abuse (45.1 percent, or 2.1 million).
Emergency department visits in 2009 resulted from the misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals at a rate of 405.4 visits per 100,000 population compared with a rate of 317.1 per 100,000 population for illicit drugs. Misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals represented 627,290 visits in 2004, increasing to 1,244,679 emergency room visits in 2009. During that same span of time, the number of visits involving illicit drug use and alcohol remained relatively stable.
Visits to emergency departments due to adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals that were taken as prescribed also saw a dramatic increase. Between 2005 and 2009, this type of ED visit increased by 82.9 percent (from 1,250,377 visits in 2005 to 2,287.273 visits in 2009). A majority of these visits represented people who were 65 or older.
The Drug Abuse Warning Network provides information on the types of drugs involved in substance abuse and the characteristics of people suffering adverse effects of drug use. The DAWN data helps guide prevention, intervention, and treatment programs at all levels. DAWN is part of SAMHSA’s Strategic Initiative on Data, Outcomes, and Quality.
Highlights of the 2009 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Findings on Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits is available on the SAMHSA Web site.
* Data for Emergency Department visits involving adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals are not available for 2004.
Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (December 28, 2010). Figure 3. Drug-Related Emergency Department (ED) Visits, by Type of Visit: 2004 to 2009. Highlights of the 2009 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Findings on Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits. Rockville, MD.