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Lonhala Magnair

Opioids and Seniors

Opioid-Related Hospital Care for Seniors

Opioid misuse in older adults is an underappreciated and growing problem.

Among patients aged 65 years and older, the rate of opioid-related hospitalizations increased more than the rate of nonopioid-related hospitalizations between 2010 and 2015:

  • Inpatient stays: 34.3% increase in the rate of opioid-related stays, from 199.3 to 267.6 per 100,000 population, versus a 17.4% decrease in the rate of nonopioid-related stays.
  • Emergency department (ED) visits: 74.2% increase in the rate of opioid-related ED visits, from 44.7 to 77.9 per 100,000 population, versus a 17.4% increase in the rate of nonopioid-related ED visits.

Compared with nonopioid-related stays among patients aged 65 years and older in 2015, opioid-related stays involved:

  • Higher average inpatient costs and ED charges.
  • Higher proportion of patients discharged against medical advice.
  • Higher proportion of patients with multiple chronic conditions.
  • Higher hospitalization rate among patients residing in western states relative to other regions.

To learn more, see Weiss, A.J. et al. (2018). Opioid-related inpatient stays and emergency department visits among patients aged 65 Years and older, 2010 and 2015. Statistical Brief #244. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.


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