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Subst Abuse Rehabil. 2016 Sep 16;7:131-141. eCollection 2016.

Factors associated with opioid overdose: a 10-year retrospective study of patients in a large integrated health care system.

Author information

Center for Health Research.
Biomedical and Translational Informatics, Geisinger Clinic, Danville, PA.
Indivior Inc., Richmond, VA.
Emergency Medicine Service Line, Central Division, Geisinger Clinic, Danville.
Geisinger Interventional Pain Center, Danville, PA, USA.



Opioid overdoses (ODs) have been increasing, and harm reduction efforts are a priority. The success of these efforts will be dependent on the identification of at-risk patients and improved access to the antidote naloxone. Therefore, to identify access to naloxone and factors associated with negative health outcomes, we conducted a retrospective study of patients with OD to identify those at highest risk of adverse outcomes and to assess the use of naloxone.


We conducted a study of electronic health records for patients admitted to the largest multihospital system in the region - the Geisinger Health System (GHS) for ODs - from April 2005 through March 2015. ODs were defined by International Classification of Diseases-9 codes (age range: 10-95 years). Bivariate analyses and multiple logistic regressions were conducted to identify pre-OD factors associated with adverse health outcomes post-OD.


We identified 2,039 patients with one or more ODs, of whom 9.4% were deceased within 12 months. Patient demographics suggest that patients with OD had a mean age of 52 years, were not married (64%), and were unemployed (78%). Common comorbidities among patients with OD include cardiovascular disease (22%), diabetes (14%), cancer (13%), and the presence of one or more mental health disorders (35%). Few patients had a prescription order for naloxone (9%) after their OD. The majority of patients with OD were in proximity to GHS health care facilities, with 87% having a GHS primary care provider. In multiple logistic regressions, common predictors of adverse outcomes, including death, repeated ODs, frequent service use, and high service cost, were higher prescription opioid use, comorbid medical conditions, comorbid mental disorders, and concurrent use of other psychotropic medications.


This study suggests opportunities for improving OD outcomes. Those who receive higher quantities of prescription opioids concurrent with other psychotropic medicines may need closer monitoring to avoid death, repeated OD events, higher service use, and higher service costs. Other opportunities for improving OD outcomes include the use of electronic health records to notify physicians of high-risk patients and updating of guidelines/operation manuals focused on the distribution of naloxone to those in highest need.


health care access; health care costs; naloxone; opioids; overdose antidote; prescription drugs; services utilization

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