Increases in drug and opioid overdose deaths—United States, 2000–2015.
Approach to Improving Safety
Opioid medications are frequently associated with adverse drug events in inpatient and outpatient settings. This surveillance report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demonstrated that the magnitude of patient harm from opioid use is growing rapidly. Opioid overdose deaths are increasing each year, through 2015, and current rates are the highest ever recorded. The types of opioids most commonly involved in overdose deaths are natural and semisynthetic opioids, which are often prescribed as pain relievers. The authors suggest that the adoption of new prescribing guidelines and more widespread use of the opioid reversal agent naloxone will help address this growing epidemic. An earlier version of this article included data through 2014. A previous WebM&M commentary described a fatal opioid overdose.