IMPACT OF OPIOID EPIDEMIC ON ACUTE CARE PROVIDERS

The opioid epidemic takes 175 lives every day in the U.S., and 1,000 people are treated every day in emergency departments for issues related to opioid abuse. The epidemic has officially been declared a public health emergency. According to a study published last year, the opioid crisis cost the U.S. economy $95 billion in 2016, with $21.4 billion spent on treating patients who are victims of the opioid epidemic. Thus, a significant portion of the total economic impact of the opioid crisis is borne by healthcare providers, and acute care providers incur significant damages in the form of unreimbursed care associated with treating uninsured victims of the opioid epidemic.

More than 64,000 Americans died of opioid overdose in 2016, but overdose deaths are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of impact on acute care providers. For every prescription opioid overdose death, there are 9.5 treatment admissions for opioids and 25 emergency department admissions. Further, research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that even current estimates of opioid-related death may fail to capture significant numbers of deaths and treatment episodes in which opioids are a contributing factor. A recent study analyzing data from 23 million admissions between 2009 and 2015 from 150 hospitals in 44 states, found a 34 percent increase in overdose-related ICU admissions during that period. The costs of those admissions rose over that period from about $58,000 in 2009 to about $92,000 in 2015.

Numerous actions have been filed against opioid manufacturers and distributors by states, counties, municipalities, and Indian nations. Many of these actions have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation. Whatley Kallas stands ready to represent the interests of acute care providers, such as hospitals and emergency medical services providers, against the manufacturers and distributors of opioids relating to unreimbursed care provided to victims of the opioid epidemic.