Sunday, July 14, 2024

Brunswick County health report: unintentional medication and drug poisoning deaths on the rise

Deaths due to unintentional medications and drug poisonings have been on the rise in Brunswick County between 2008 and 2017, a recent county report shows.

One year after complying with the North Carolina STOP Act, New Hanover Regional Medical Center announced its opioid-related statistics, showing overdoses had declined.. (Port City Daily/File photo)
One year after complying with the North Carolina STOP Act, New Hanover Regional Medical Center announced its opioid-related statistics, showing overdoses had declined.. (Port City Daily/File photo)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — A recent state of the county Brunswick County health report provides an overview of health measures, and one statistic stands out: Between 2008 and 2017, unintentional medication and drug poisoning deaths tripled.

The most recent available data on unintentional deaths from the North Carolina State Health Center for Statistics is from 2017, released last month.

Related: NHRMC: Opioid overdoses and prescriptions down, Naloxone prescriptions up

It’s not clear if the trend is still on the rise in 2019. For instance, last month, New Hanover Regional Medical Center announced its opioid overdoses had dropped. Opioid overdoses dropped from 155 between January and October in 2017 to 72 during the same time period last year, according to NHRMC.

This drop was attributed to changes in prescription policy required by the North Carolina STOP Act. The law curbed the time period physicians could prescribe controlled substances for acute post-operative pain. It went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. An inquiry to Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center was not immediately returned.

The number of unintentional medication and drug poisoning deaths has been on the rise in Brunswick County over the last decade. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Brunswick County Health Services)
The number of unintentional medication and drug poisoning deaths has been on the rise in Brunswick County over the last decade. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Brunswick County Health Services)

Analyzing data available

Brunswick County Health Services analyzes available health data on an annual basis in its state of that county health reports. The 2018 report includes measures of unintentional injury death rates. Compared to both the state and New Hanover County, Brunswick County’s age-adjusted unintentional injury death rate per 100,000 residents is nearly 30 percent higher.

“Since 2006, Brunswick County has seen a continual increase in the five-year unintentional injury death rates,” the 2018 state of the county health report states.

In 2017, 47 Brunswick County residents died because of drug poisoning or unintentional medication. That’s triple the county’s 2008 number, at 15 deaths, and nearly double the number of deaths in 2015, at 25. Of the 47 unintentional medication or drug poisoning deaths in the county in 2017, 28 can be attributed to synthetic narcotics, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Synthetic narcotics like fentanyl, as well as heroin were involved in nearly 80 percent of all unintentional opioid deaths in the state in 2017, according to the state’s analysis.

Inquiries to Brunswick County Health Services about the report were not immediately returned.


Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at johanna@localvoicemedia.com

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