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Member Research and Reports

Johns Hopkins: Study: Care Following Opioid Overdoses in West Virginia Falls Short

Only a small fraction of people who had non-fatal opioid overdoses in West Virginia received treatment in the aftermath, a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests. The finding, the authors say, represents a missed opportunity to prevent future fatal overdoses in a state that leads the nation in these deaths.

Study leads Dr. Brendan Saloner, assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s departments of health policy and management and mental health, and Mr. Neel Koyawala, a medical student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, say it’s unclear what happens to people who are at the greatest risk of suffering a fatal overdose: those who overdose and survive.

The paper was published online January 28 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The researchers report that only about 10 percent of those who experienced a non-fatal overdose received recommended treatment afterward, including medications for opioid use disorder such as buprenorphine, follow-up visits to health care providers for opioid use disorder and mental health counseling. When they looked at the data month over month, they saw that office visits for opioid use disorder spiked in the month following an overdose. However, after that, they leveled off to pre-overdose trends. At 12 months post-overdose, only 7.3 percent of these individuals were taking buprenorphine.

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