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Study: Drug overdose patients have worse two-year mortality outcomes

March 10, 2014
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Patients admitted to intensive care as a result of a drug overdose showed a higher death rate within two years of discharge than did other intensive-care patients, according to a study conducted in the Netherlands.

The study, which will be published in the journal Critical Care Medicine, found that patients in the Netherlands who were admitted to intensive care from 2008-2011 for poisoning related to hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin or Ecstasy had a two-year death rate of 12.3%. By comparison, the two-year death rate among patients who had been admitted to intensive care for alcohol poisoning was 7.1%. The composite two-year death rate among all intensive-care patients admitted for poisoning was 9.3%.

Researcher Dylan de Lange, an intensive-care physician at the University Medical Center Utrecht, said of the finding, “The unexpectedly high death rate after a drugs overdose in the first two years after being in [intensive care] suggests that these patients are part of a high-risk group with recurring risky behavior, for whom intensive (psychiatric) aftercare is essential.”

A follow-up study to this analysis will seek to determine whether professionals can predict which patients will benefit the most from being sent to intensive care.