PHC4 Research Brief - Hospitalizations for Overdose of Pain Medication and Heroin - News Release


Contact: Joe Martin
717-232-6787 or

PHC4 Data Shows Large Increases in Hospital Admissions for Overdose of Pain Medication and Heroin.

Harrisburg, PA - January 26, 2016 - The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) has released a new research brief on hospitalizations for overdose of pain medication and heroin. Examining hospital discharges between 2000 and 2014 for Pennsylvania residents ages 15 and older, the brief presents statewide findings that show a 225% increase in the number of hospitalizations for overdose of pain medication and a 162% increase in the number of hospitalizations for overdose of heroin.

While there were higher numbers of hospital admissions for these types of overdoses among urban county residents, there were larger increases for rural county residents. For rural county residents, there was a 285% increase between 2000 and 2014 in the number of hospitalizations for pain medication and a 315% increase for heroin. For urban counties the percent increases were 208% and 143%, respectively.

"These statewide and regional hospitalization findings stress the alarming impact this current drug problem is having on communities across the Commonwealth," said Joe Martin, PHC4's executive director. "Whether urban or rural, this issue is an equal opportunity offender."

Among the 929 admissions for overdose of pain medication in 2014 (up from 286 in 2000), the largest percentage, at 28%, was for patients ages 50 to 59. Among the 919 admissions for overdose of heroin (up from 351 in 2000), the largest percentage, at 40%, was for patients ages 20 to 29.

Shedding some light on the impact these readmissions have on health care resources, the brief estimates that, together, hospitalizations for pain medication and heroin overdose amounted to an estimated $12.2 million in payments.

PHC4 is an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting information that can be used to improve the quality and restrain the cost of health care in Pennsylvania.