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Bohnert ASB, Walton MA, Cunningham RM, Ilgen MA, Barry K, Chermack ST, Blow FC. Overdose and adverse drug event experiences among adult patients in the emergency department. Addictive Behaviors. 2018 Nov 1; 86:66-72.
INTRODUCTION: Overdose is a leading cause of injury and death in the United States. Emergency Department (ED) patients have an elevated prevalence of substance use. This study describes overdose/adverse drug event experiences among adult ED patients to inform strategies to address overdose risk. METHODS: Patients seeking care at a large ED in the city of Flint, Michigan participated in a computerized self-assessment during 2011-2013 (n = 4571). Overdose was assessed with a broad definition and included occurrences that could be considered adverse drug events. Among those with this type of experience, additional items assessed symptoms, outcomes, and intent. RESULTS: 12% reported an overdose history. Of participants' most serious overdoses, 74% were without clear intent for self-harm, although this was true of only 61% of overdoses involving opiates or sedatives, and 52% had symptoms present that indicated that it was life-threatening. Binge drinking on a monthly basis (ORs = 1.4) was associated with a medically serious overdose compared to never having an overdose. Compared to no drug use in the last year, use of one drug was associated with an OR of 1.8, two drugs was associated with an OR of 5.8, three drugs was associated with an OR of 8.4, and four or more drugs was associated with an OR of 25.1 of having had a medically serious overdose (all p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Most overdose experiences among ED patients were without clear intent of self-harm. The ED may be an appropriate setting for efforts to reduce overdose risk, especially among polysubstance users.