According to new research the prescription drug overdose risks for an individual will increase with frequent emergency room visits. The researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health discovered that the frequency of emergency room visits can be a very strong predictor of prescription drug overdose deaths. The researchers determined that patients who visited the local emergency room at least twice in the previous year were 5 times more likely to die from a prescription overdose than patients who had only been seen in the ER once in the previous year or who had not visited the ER at all in the last 12 months. Patients who had 3 ER visits in the last year had a risk of death from a prescription drug overdose that was 17 times higher, and with 4 or more visits in the last 12 months this rate was 48 times higher.
The study on emergency room visits and the risk of a prescription drug overdose causing death was published in the Annals of Epidemiology journal. According to first study author and adjunct assistant professor of epidemiology Joanne E. Brady, Ph.D “While ‘doctor-shopping’ — the practice of visiting multiple health care providers to obtain controlled substances — has been shown to be associated with prescription drug overdose in many studies, our investigation demonstrates that the frequency of emergency department visits in the past year is a strong predictor of subsequent death from prescription drug overdose.” The study also showed that those most likely to die of a prescription overdose after an ER visit were far more likely to leave the ER against medical advice.