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Alleged surge in Kamloops drug overdoses cannot be confirmed at the emergency room

February 11, 2016 - 2:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - Despite reports of four deaths caused by illicit drug overdoses in the community last month, Interior Health has not issued any special alerts and according to one local doctor, all remains status quo in Royal Inland Hospital’s Emergency Room.

Last month, Bob Hughes with Kamloops’ ASK Wellness Society told four people died from drug overdoses — a higher number than usual in the city. Hughes noted the information was relayed to him by clients and had no ability to fact check it.

Whether or not that information is accurate is hampered by a lack of statistics; overdoses are not formally tracked at hospital emergency rooms or by paramedics.

“That’s the real challenge of this,” Dr. Ian Mitchell says. “These overdoses happen in multiple settings, it’s difficult data to collect."

Mitchell could not confirm recent numbers of how many people checked into the emergency room because of an overdose. He notes if there was a ‘cluster’ of overdoses that came in around the same time, the health authority would likely issue an alert.

He adds the emergency room will soon be getting a new record-keeping system which might be able to track overdoses, but not which drug the patient overdosed on. The system will not track deaths because that data is sorted by the B.C. Coroners Service.

"I think clearly the problem is that we don’t have all the statistics that we need. It’s kind of patchwork,” he says.

Mitchell hopes to join Hughes, who plans to establish a drug users network in the city, to have a confidential, yet frank dialogue about what types of drugs are present in the community and if they’ve been laced with other drugs, such as fentanyl — a drug 100 times more powerful than heroin.

“I don’t have that experience but I’m just interested in the field,” he says. “Addiction and rehab is very much a grassroots issue."

RELATED READING: Tracking drug overdoses needs improvement to curb the 'fentanyl crisis': Kamloops doctor

To contact a reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
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