Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center Special Report


From Foreword:

Kentucky has seen an explosion in fatal poisonings, particularly prescription drug related fatalities, in the last decade. In 2009, Kentucky had the 5th highest drug overdose rate in the US, increased from the 6th highest drug overdose fatality rate determined in 2008 (CDC WONDER). Kentucky also had the 5th highest nonmedical use of opioid pain relievers, and 11th highest for opioid pain reliever sales in the nation (CDC, MMWR Report November 4, 2011). These drug overdose mortality statistics are extremely startling and only begin to reveal the devastating mental, emotional, and economic toll and pain on families who will forever grieve for their lost loved one.

This report was designed to gain a comprehensive understanding of the drug overdose problem in Kentucky through the analysis of multiple statewide public health data sets-- emergency department admissions of Kentucky residents in Kentucky healthcare facilities, inpatient hospitalizations of Kentucky residents in Kentucky non-federal acute care hospitals, and deaths of Kentucky residents within and outside the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

The operational definitions for the underlying and multiple causes coding of drug overdose mortality within death certificates were modeled on the CDC method of Dr. Leonard Paulozzi (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Vital Signs: Overdoses of Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers – United States, 1999 - 2008). Drug overdose morbidity definition was based on a new Safe States publication entitled “Consensus Recommendations for National and State Poisoning Surveillance”, recently produced by the Safe States Injury Surveillance Workgroup on Poisoning in April 2012.

The information contained within this report is intended to inform and assist practitioners, lawmakers, and public health professionals in the development of targeted interventions for multi-pronged approaches to reduce the heavy burden of prescription drug abuse in Kentucky. It is hoped that public health professionals and lawmakers armed with the data and recommendations contained within this report on drug overdoses can better target those populations with the greatest need for substance abuse services, prevention programs, and legislation.

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