Hospitalizations for drug overdoses jump 225% in Pa.

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jan 28, 2016 4:24 AM

(Harrisburg) -- The heroin and drug overdose crisis has hit Pennsylvania hard - from a growing number of overdose deaths to increasing demand for treatment services.

And now, new data shows hospitals are also feeling the pressure.

In 2000, 286 people statewide were admitted to a hospital for overdosing on pain medication. 

Fourteen years later, the number jumped 225 percent - to 929.

It only took five years for heroin overdose hospitalizations to increase at a similar rate.

351 people stayed overnight at a hospital in 2010 for a heroin overdose.

But by 2014, 919 were hospitalized.

Dr. Bradley Levin, a member of the York County Heroin Task Force, says the figures are just the latest reminder of the drug addiction crisis.

"I think it places an enormous burden on society in general. There's an enormous economic burden, there's an enormous societal burden in terms of treatment facilities, mental health," says Levin.

Levin says it takes a lot of medical staff to stabilize someone who has overdosed on pain medication or heroin.

"I don't have a simple answer for hospitals. I feel bad for the hospitals being inundated with these kinds of people and then they don't have the beds to even admit these patients, perhaps where they need to be, overnight," he adds.

Rural areas actually saw a bigger jump in overdose hospitalizations than urban areas.

One note: the data only measures people who stay overnight - many more people come to a hospital emergency room for an overdose but are never admitted.

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