Emergency department utilization and subsequent prescription drug overdose death

Joanne E. Brady, Charles J. DiMaggio, Katherine M. Keyes, John J. Doyle, Lynne D. Richardson, Guohua Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Purpose: Prescription drug overdose (PDO) deaths are a critical public health problem in the United States. This study aims to assess the association between emergency department (ED) utilization patterns in a cohort of ED patients and the risk of subsequent unintentional PDO mortality. Methods: Using data from the New York Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System for 2006-2010, a nested case-control design was used to examine the relationship between ED utilization patterns in New York State residents of age 18-64years and subsequent PDO death. Results: The study sample consisted of 2732 case patients who died of PDO and 2732 control ED patients who were selected through incidence density sampling. With adjustment for demographic characteristics, and diagnoses of pain, substance abuse, and psychiatric disorders, the estimated odds ratios of PDO death relative to one ED visit or less in the previous year were 4.90 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 4.50-5.34) for those with two ED visits, 16.61 (95% CI: 14.72-18.75) for those with three ED visits, and 48.24 (95% CI: 43.23-53.83) for those with four ED visits or more. Conclusions: Frequency of ED visits is strongly associated with the risk of subsequent PDO death. Intervention programs targeting frequent ED users are warranted to reduce PDO mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-619.e2
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2015


  • Drug overdose
  • Emergency service, hospital
  • Prescription drugs
  • Prevention and control


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