Delaware Public Media

CDC finds spike in Delaware opioid overdose ER visits

Mar 6, 2018

A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds Delaware hospitals have seen a more than 100 percent increase in suspected opioid overdoses.

Delaware participates in a CDC opioid overdose data collection program. Of the 16 states participating in the program, the First State saw the second largest rise in overdose-related ER visits - a 105 percent increase between July 2016 and September 2017. Wisconsin led the states with a 108 percent spike.

Visits to First State emergency departments because of suspected opioid overdoses more than doubled in the past year. And New Castle County accounted for nearly 75 percent of the more than 2,000 ER visits.

Delaware Health and Social Services Secretary Kara Odom Walker said because of state’s Good Samaritan Law, people can seek treatment for an overdose without the fear of being criminally prosecuted.

“You know, we’re definitely concerned about the increases, but it also says that the Emergency Departments are a big part of our system of care for treatment,” she said.

Walker said ERs can save lives by administering Naloxone, a drug that can reverse an overdose.

“That gives us an opportunity to give them lifesaving Naloxone," she said. "You know and one of the biggest things that we really wanted to encourage was you know the Good Samaritan laws where people would feel safe going to Emergency Departments.”

Doctors and first responders are trained to administer Naloxone, an overdose antidote. Naloxone is also available over the counter in participating pharmacies.