Abstract

Background: Individuals with opioid use disorder may be at heightened risk of opioid overdose during the COVID-19 period of social isolation, economic distress, and disrupted treatment services delivery. This study evaluated changes in daily number of Kentucky emergency medical services (EMS) runs for opioid overdose between January 14, 2020 and April 26, 2020. Methods: We evaluated the statistical significance of the changes in the average daily EMS opioid overdose runs in the 52 days before and after the COVID-19 state of emergency declaration, March 6, 2020. Results: Kentucky EMS opioid overdose daily runs increased after the COVID-19 state emergency declaration. In contrast, EMS daily runs for other conditions leveled or declined. There was a 17% increase in the number of EMS opioid overdose runs with transportation to an emergency department (ED), a 71% increase in runs with refused transportation, and a 50% increase in runs for suspected opioid overdoses with deaths at the scene. The average daily EMS opioid overdose runs with refused transportation increased significantly, doubled to an average of 8 opioid overdose patients refusing transportation every day during the COVID-19-related study period. Conclusions: This Kentucky-specific study provides empirical evidence for concerns that opioid overdoses are rising during the COVID-19 pandemic and calls for sharing of observations and analyses from different regions and surveillance systems with timely data collection (e.g., EMS data, syndromic surveillance data for ED visits) to improve our understanding of the situation, inform proactive response, and prevent another big wave of opioid overdoses in our communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108176
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Volume214
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported, in part, by funding from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant number 6 NU17CE924971-01-01 , awarded to the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center in its role of bona fide agent for the Kentucky Department for Public Health. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services. This study was also supported, in part, by funding from National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) grant number R01 DA 016718 .

Funding Information:
This study was supported, in part, by funding from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant number 6 NU17CE924971-01-01, awarded to the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center in its role of bona fide agent for the Kentucky Department for Public Health. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services. This study was also supported, in part, by funding from National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) grant number R01 DA 016718.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Emergency medical services
  • Interrupted time series
  • Opioid overdose
  • Segmented regression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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