BUFFALO, NY - A newly released CDC report indicates emergency room visits tied to the opioid epidemic jumped by 30 percent in 45 states in 2017.
That report did not specify any local numbers for overdose cases, but 2 On Your Side did learn that our local physicians and other health care professionals are seeking ways to reduce such cases.
Dr. Joshua Lynch points out, "Our work day, our work shift is definitely affected by patients with addiction problems."
Lynch says its plays out that way at all local ER's like ECMC, Millard Fillmore Suburban, and other hospitals covered by him and his colleagues at UB MD Emergency Medical group. And they consider the overdose cases just as serious as any heart attack, stroke, or trauma patient with an additional factor for those who OD.
Lynch says, "The patients that hit the emergency department oftentimes, we may be their only interaction to health care. So we take the time that we have with those patients very seriously and we try to maximize what we can for them both in the Emergency Department and how we hook them up with treatment."
Lynch says that effort has been enhanced over the past year with a program to set up a network of regional addiction treatment centers. "We have worked to kind of develop affiliations with five different treatment organizations across Western New York that have worked with us and given us the ability to start for appropriate patients medication assistance treatment right in the emergency department and then rapidly link them into appointments - typically within 72 hours of the time they're in the emergency department." That includes use of specific addiction treatment medication like buprenorphine commonly known as Suboxone.
But the referrals for treatment clinics are just as crucial, especially for repeat OD patients which is tragically common with addiction. Lynch adds, "Getting patients the help and the medication that they may need or might be appropriate for them right while they're in the emergency department and linking them appropriate to an addiction specialist...our goal is to stop seeing those repeat patients over and over again."
As we've heard before, this opioid epidemic has unfortunately hit hard in all areas ranging from urban, to suburban to rural. That's why treatment access has even been set up in more outlying areas like North Collins and even Warsaw in Wyoming County.
2 On Your Side reached out to the CDC for more clarification on what has been reported in such cases here in New York state.