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The latest news on opioid-related hospital visits is a mixed bag for Nova Scotia.
The overall provincial rate of opioid poisoning hospitalizations and emergency department visits in 2017 was 8.4 per 100,000, the lowest in the country, and a slight decrease compared to 2016, according to การพนันบอล a report by the Canadian Institute of Health Information.
Halifax had the lowest rate for larger urban areas in the country with 20 hospitalizations, or 4.6 per 100,000, in 2017.
But the picture isn’t so positive when you isolate the numbers to Cape Breton, where there were 27 hospitalizations linked to opioid poisoning, said the CIHI report called Opioid Related Harms in Canada. That translates into 27.9 per 100,000, the highest rate in the Atlantic provinces after the cities of Moncton and St. John’s.
That contrast reflects trends across the country that indicate opioid harms are more prevalent in smaller communities — with a population between 50,000 and 99,999 — compared to larger urban centres such as Halifax, said Krista Louie, who manages CIHI’s opioid reporting team.
“We didn’t look at necessarily urban/rural, we looked at ... the size of the communities,” Louie said in an interview from her Ottawa office on Wednesday. “We did notice that smaller communities have higher rates.”
While the survey didn’t delve into the possible reasons for hospital visit declines or increases, “it’s a pretty good sign that Halifax has the lowest of the metropolitan areas across the country,” she said.
While hospital-related rates dipped, the number of opioid-related deaths jumped to 63 in 2017 compared to the 53 deaths the previous year.
So far in 2018, there have been 33 confirmed and 13 probable opioid toxicity deaths in 2018 (as of Nov. 1), according to provincial Health Department statistics.
Nobody from the Health Department was available to comment on the CIHI report Wednesday afternoon.
In October, the department said government is seeking “safer consumption/overdose prevention” models that will work in urban and rural Nova Scotia. The province has distributed 50,000 take-home naloxone kits to at-risk Nova Scotians and their families. Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can stop or reverse an opioid overdose.
“Our first year focused on the most urgent concerns — saving lives with naloxone and getting more people into treatment programs,” Health Minister Randy Delorey said in a news release in October to mark a year since the province introduced its Opioid Use and Overdose Framework.
“We know opioid use and overdose remains an issue in our communities.”
The opioid hospitalization picture in the CIHI report varied across the Atlantic region. In Newfoundland and Labrador the rate jumped six points to 16.6 hospitalizations per 100,000 while in Prince Edward Island the number declined by 4.6 points to 9.5. The numbers also dropped in New Brunswick to 13.1 (down 4.1).