DPH revises number of opioid deaths in 2014

An updated report by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health shows a steep increase in the number of confirmed cases of unintentional opioid overdose deaths in 2014 compared with previous years, the State House News Service reported.

The report, which measures confirmed and probable cases of opioid-related deaths, estimates the death count for 2014 at 1,256, up from 939 in 2013. The numbers reflect a 57 percent increase over 2012 and a 15 percent increase over confirmed cases for 2013. DPH estimates the 2013 and 2014 totals to rise once cases are finalized. The rate of unintentional opioid-related deaths last year also rose to levels “previously unseen in Massachusetts,” according to the report. Data suggests an estimated rate of 18.6 deaths per 100,000 residents, which represents a 251 percent increase from the rate of 5.3 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2000. Analysts use predictive modeling techniques for all cases not yet finalized by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The information is based on data made available as of July 1 of this year.

Martha’s Vineyard police estimate that seven Islanders have died on and off the Island in the past year. There has also been a spike in drug-related emergencies, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital emergency room officials report.