Almost 125,000 senior citizens were admitted to the hospital in 2015 as a result of opioid-related complications, a leading health concern for older Americans. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released a report recently highlighting the struggles seniors have with opioid use.
The report states that opioid-related hospitalizations increased fastest among patients aged 65 and older (by 50 percent) compared to other age groups. Emergency Department visits more than doubled between 2010 and 2015 with 36,200 ED visits as a result of opioid use by seniors. An additional AHRQ report notes that in 2016 a third of the 40 million Americans enrolled in the Medicare Part D prescription program received prescription opioids and many received them at high doses for a prolonged period of time, putting them at increased risk of misuse.
Eighty percent of older Americans have chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and depression compared to less than 20 percent younger adults (age 18-44 years old). This places them at higher risk for drug interactions and adverse effects associated with opioid use.
“The statistics in these reports provide important new insights into the opioid crisis and its impact on one of the Nation’s most vulnerable populations,” said AHRQ Direct Gopal Khanna, M.B.A. “The information is essential in supporting the Department of Health and Human Services and HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s ongoing efforts to confront the epidemic.”
The reports analyzed data from two AHRQ databases: Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, the most comprehensive hospital database in the nation, and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a national database that looks at how Americans use and pay for medical care.
The AHRQ report noted that senior citizen’s inpatient hospital expenses and ED charges in 2015 were higher as it related to opioid use ($14,900) compared to other medical conditions ($13,200). Those who entered the hospital or ED for complications due to opioid use were more likely to be discharged to anther facility for post-acute care (37 percent) compared to cases not involving opioids (30 percent). 96 percent of those admitted to the hospital for opioid-related issues had multiple chronic conditions.
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