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According to a report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) called “Opioid-Related Harms in Canada” released Wednesday, 48 people were hospitalized in St. John’s in 2017 due to opioid poisonings.
The age-adjusted rate of hospitalizations for 2017 for St. John’s is 21 per 100,000 population (up 11.9 from 2016), and the province as a whole in 2017 is 16.6 per 100,000 population, up six from 2016.
“Rates have increased in Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia, while they’ve decreased in the other provinces,” the report notes. “The northern and western regions of Canada continue to have the highest rates of hospitalizations due to opioid poisoning.”
The report found that rates of harm due to opioid poisoning continue to rise across Canada, with the number of hospitalizations increasing by 27 per cent over the past five years.
Between 2016 and 2017, the rate of hospitalizations due to opioid poisoning increased by eight per cent in Canada.
In Ontario and Alberta between 2016 and 2017, rates of emergency department visits due to opioid poisoning increased by 73 per cent and 23 per cent, respectively.
The fastest-growing rates of hospitalizations and emergency department visits due to opioid poisoning were seen among men age 25 to 44.
Opioids are described as effective drugs that play a role in pain management for many patients. Opioid poisoning occurs when an opioid is taken incorrectly and results in harm. Incorrect usage includes wrong dosage, self-prescribed opioids taken in combination with another prescribed drug or alcohol, and self-prescribed opioid not taken as recommended.
Opioid poisoning hospitalizations were categorized in the report as: accidental (58 per cent in Canada in 2017) — the poisoning was considered to be non-intentional and includes accidental poisoning of drug, wrong drug given or taken in error, and drug taken inadvertently; intentional (30 per cent in Canada in 2017) — the poisoning occurred as a result of purposely self-inflicted harm; unknown (12 per cent in Canada in 2017) — the poisoning is due to physician documentation of undetermined/unknown intent.