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  • More women visit Victorian hospital emergency departments for pharmaceutical opioid harm

    Author: AAP

More Victorian women present to hospital emergency departments for pharmaceutical opioid harm than men as overall numbers surge, according to new data.

More women than men visit Victorian hospital emergency departments with illness caused by pharmaceutical opioids, according to a new report which reveals a decade-long surge in opioid cases.

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Almost 5000 women went to emergency departments with opioid-related harm compared to 3157 men between 2008/09 to 2017/18, according to the Monash University Accident Research Centre report released on Thursday.

Harm from the prescription pain drug increased by 3.1 per cent a year on average during the 10-year period, the report says.

Between 2015/16 to 2017/18, there were 2618 emergency presentations coded as opioid poisoning, most commonly from codeine and oxycodone, followed by tramadol.


Occupational Therapist
SA Health, Limestone Coast Local Health Network
Occupational Therapist - Senior
Charters Towers Health Service

The numbers of hospital admissions for pharmaceutical opioid-related harm were even higher.

A total of 3946 hospital admissions were recorded in 2016/17 to 2017/18 - an average of 1315 a year and the majority were coded for drugs such as codeine and morphine.

The report makes eight recommendations, including interventions to prevent self-harm, expanding data collection and increasing the availability of the drug naloxone, which reverses opioid overdose.

Intentional self-poisoning made up 51.3 per cent of all hospital admissions between 2015/16 to 2017/18, followed unintentional and then undetermined poisoning, according to the report.

Premier Daniel Andrews said issues such as self-harm and suicide would be tackled in the royal commission into mental health, which is due to deliver its interim report in November.

"The suicide toll is twice the road toll, self-harm is a massive issue and part of this process is accepting that's just not good enough," he said.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the government had also put in $29.5 million to establish a real-time prescription monitoring system to help monitor opioid overuse.


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