Mortality After Hospitalization for Opioid Use Disorder Is High and Mostly Attributable to Causes Beyond Overdose

Individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) have high rates of hospitalization, which can offer an opportunity to engage with harm reduction services and treatment. Mortality and causes of death following hospitalization for OUD are not well described. In this study, investigators used Oregon Medicaid (US) data linked with Oregon Vital Statistics data to examine mortality and cause of death in the 12 months following hospitalization with a diagnosis of OUD.

  • One-year mortality was 8% following hospitalization with an OUD diagnosis.
  • Cause of death was classified as substance use-related for 58% and non-substance use-related for 42%.
  • Only 1 in 7 deaths were classified as due to overdose.

Comments: The mortality burden of individuals hospitalized with a diagnosis of OUD is high, and extends well beyond death due to overdose. Many non-substance use-related conditions may be impacted by ongoing substance use. Future studies should consider the impact of engagement in substance use care and how it is delivered on health outcomes beyond overdose.

Marc R. Larochelle, MD, MPH

Reference: King C, Cook R, Korthuis PT, et al. Causes of death in the 12 months after hospital discharge among patients with opioid use disorder. J Addict Med. 2021;10.1097/ADM.0000000000000915.

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