Interior hospitals had hundreds of overdose patients in 2017
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January 23, 2018 - 6:00 PM
As more people across the province succumb to the ongoing opioid crisis, the number of overdose patients presenting at Interior hospitals is reaching unprecedented levels.
Kelowna General Hospital and Vernon Jubilee Hospital had the highest number of recorded overdose patients in their emergency rooms, with more than 350 and 300 respectively, according to numbers provided by Interior Health.
The number of suspected overdose patients at Vernon Jubilee is nearly double that of the overdose patients at Royal Inland Hospital between January and November 2017, but there may be a simple reason why the figures are so high in Vernon — and cast some doubt on the accuracy of all numbers.
Dr. Silvina Mema said last year each hospital may not record overdoses the same way. Staff need time to complete a patient survey and Vernon hospital staff took part in a pilot project to make recording overdoses easier.
Fewer than 200 patients presented at Royal Inland during that time period, according to the health authority.
Penticton Regional Hospital had the fourth-highest number of suspected overdose patients in their emergency department within the Interior Health Authority.
Also in the information provided by Interior Health are "community overdose profiles". According to those numbers, between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31 of 2017, 66 people in Kelowna died from overdoses. Last year's deaths are projected to be 70 per cent higher than the 46 deaths in 2016.
In the same time period, 37 people died in Kamloops from suspected overdoses, on track for similar numbers in 2016, when 43 people died.
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