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Healthy People 2010 - With Annotations

Chapter 26

Adverse Consequences of Substance Use and Abuse

26-4. Reduce drug-related hospital emergency department visits.

350,000 visits per year.

Baseline: 542,544 drug-related hospital emergency department visits in 1998.

Target setting method: 35 percent improvement.

Data source: Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), SAMHSA.

Drug-related hospital emergency department (ED) visits are another major indicator of the harmful effects of drugs. In hospital EDs, a "drug-related episode" is defined as one resulting from the nonmedical use of a drug. This includes the unprescribed use of prescription drugs, use of drugs contrary to approved labeling, and use of illicit drugs. Episodes are abstracted from medical records by hospital staff or hired clerks. To be counted as having a drug-related episode, the ED patient must be aged 6 years or older and meet four criteria: the patient was treated in the hospital's ED; the presenting problem was induced by or related to drug use; the case involved the nonmedical use of a legal drug or any use of an illegal drug; and the patient's reason for taking the substance(s) included dependence, suicide attempt or gesture, or psychic effects.

"Suicide attempt or gesture" and dependence were the most frequently cited motives for taking a substance that resulted in an ED episode, with each accounting for 35 percent of all episodes in 1998. In 1998, 55 percent of the drug-related ED episodes occurred among adolescents and adults aged 16 to 34 years and 44 percent among persons aged 35 years and older. Whites accounted for 54 percent of drug-related ED episodes. African Americans and Hispanics accounted for 25 percent and 11 percent, respecitively.(66)

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Last modified: 15-Mar-2000.