Thursday, December 22, 2016

Death Certificates Reveal Drugs Involved in Overdoses

The experts are alarmed. The rapid rise in drug overdose deaths has revealed a shortcoming in the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision. The ICD–10, as it is dubbed, is the system used to classify causes of death. But for overdose deaths, the ICD-10 lumps a variety of drugs into just a few categories, making it nearly impossible to single out the troublemakers.

To solve this problem, the National Center for Health Statistics and the Food and Drug administration developed a method to analyze the "literal text" (literally, the text) on death certificates to tease out specific drug mentions. It worked, and here are some of the findings...
  • Between 2010 and 2014, drug deaths grew 23 percent—from 38,329 to 47,055. 
  • The percentage of overdose deaths that specified at least one drug on the death certificate climbed from 67 to 78 percent between 2010 and 2014.
  • Heroin was the top drug mentioned in overdose deaths in 2014, accounting for 23 percent of the total. Cocaine was second and oxycodone third. 
  • The number of heroin overdose deaths more than tripled between 2010 and 2014, rising from 3,020 to 10,863.
  • Among overdose deaths with a drug mention, 52 percent mentioned only one drug and 48 percent mentioned two or more. The average was 1.9.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, Drugs Most Frequently Involved in Drug Overdose Deaths: United States, 2010–2014

No comments: