Clinical Edge

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Risk of Opioid Overdose Hospitalizations

J Am Board Fam Med; 2018 Nov-Dec; Peters, et al

Medicare recipients aged <65 years (Medicare-disability beneficiaries [MDBs]) constitute a substantial and growing proportion of opioid overdose hospitalizations in the US, according to a new study. The retrospective cohort study included patients hospitalized for opioid overdose in the National/Nationwide Inpatient Sample from 1998 to 2013. The primary outcome measurements were number and characteristics of discharges, including patient sex, age, race, prescription opioid vs heroin overdose, and comorbidities. Researchers found:

  • MDBs constituted 11.7% of US opioid overdose hospitalizations among those aged <65 years in 1998; this proportion grew to 24.5% by 2013.
  • The proportion of female patients grew markedly among the cohort.
  • Prescription opioid overdose accounted for a larger proportion of opioid overdose hospitalizations among MDBs than among non-Medicare-insured patients aged <65 years.
  • MDBs generally exhibited greater comorbidity burden vs non-Medicare-insured patients in this age group.


Peters JL, Durand WM, Monteiro KA, Dumenco L, George P. Opioid overdose hospitalizations among Medicare-disability beneficiaries. J Am Board Fam Med. 2018;31(6):881-896. doi:10.3122/jabfm.2018.06.180152.