McDowell County leads nation in opioid hospitalizations, study says


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — McDowell County led West Virginia in the number of people hospitalized for opioid related reasons in 2014, according to recently released data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a subset of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

In 2014, the most recent year for which data are available, a ratio of about 750 residents per 100,000 in McDowell County stayed at a hospital because of opioid abuse, including overdoses. This is a jump from 2013, when 620 per 100,000 people sought hospital treatment related to opioids.

The study relies on discharge information released by insurance companies and hospitals, according to Lorin Smith, a spokesman for AHRQ. Of West Virginia’s 55 counties, 51 were accounted for in the study. Counties where less than 11 people per 100,000 were treated for substance abuse issues — including opioid overdoses — were withheld, to ensure that individuals could not be identified by that data, Smith said.

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