Study Links Opioid Dose-Tapering With Risk Of Crisis, Overdose
Researchers looked at long-term pain patients trying to taper their doses and found a greater risk of mental health crisis and overdose. A separate analysis shows how opioid use across the U.S. varies by insurance coverage, with men and employed adults less likely to be prescribed.
Patients On High Doses Of Opioid Painkillers Risk Overdose When Tapering, Study Finds
Long-term pain patients on high amounts of opioid painkillers who taper their dose are at a higher risk of suffering a mental health crisis or an overdose, a new study has found. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, looked at a database of more than 113,000 patients prescribed higher doses of opioid painkillers between 2008 and 2019 -- an average of about 50 morphine milligram equivalents per day -- for at least a year. From there, they identified patients who had tapered their dose, which researchers defined as reducing it by at least 15% over a 60-day period. (Whelan, 8/5)
How Opioid Use Across America Varies By Insurance Coverage
Nearly a quarter of U.S. adults with chronic pain had used a prescription opioid in the past three months when surveyed in 2019, according to data published Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics. Prescription opioid use for chronic pain management has been associated with an increased risk of misuse, addiction and death — have been the subject of massive class-action lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors. (Fernandez, 8/5)
In updates on the heat wave in the West —
Northwest Heat Wave Targeted Vulnerable, Tested Climate Prep
Karen Colby thought she could make it through an unprecedented Pacific Northwest heat wave with a little help from her neighbor, who dribbled cold water on her head and visited every hour to wrap frozen towels around her neck. But when temperatures in her tiny fifth-floor studio soared to 107 degrees Fahrenheit (42 Celsius), Colby suddenly stopped responding to questions and couldn’t move from her recliner to her walker. The friend called an ambulance, and Colby, 74, wound up hospitalized for 10 days with heatstroke. (Flaccus, 8/5)
"It's Dire And It's Only Getting Worse": California Tourist Town Running Out Of Water Amid Drought
The historic California town of Mendocino is running out of water and the reservoir it depends on is drying up amid a devastating drought in the state. "It's dire and it's only getting worse," said Ryan Rhoades, the town's groundwater manager. Rhoades said he's considering bringing in water by train. In the meantime, the local high school has offered some of its reserves, which is only one truckload of water per day. "That's the problem," he said. (Evans and Powell, 8/5)
The New York Times:
Summer Camps Are Canceled As Western Wildfire Smoke Spreads.
Summer camps in eastern Washington State had to shut down this week after a stretch of unhealthy haze. Officials in Montana issued air quality warnings for nearly the entire state. And Denver residents were said to be comparing hazy conditions to the “brown cloud” that resulted from traffic pollution in the 1990s. Wildfire smoke has been a problem across the country again this summer, following a fire season last year during which conditions got so bad that officials started telling Colorado residents to create a purified “safe room” as a barrier against the stifling smoke and ozone. (8/6)
In other public health news —
Blinken Acknowledges 'Growing Concerns' About Havana Syndrome, Will Meet Affected Personnel 'Soon'
In his first message to all staff on the issue, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday acknowledged there is "growing concern" about the "unexplained health incidents" that have affected dozens of U.S. personnel around the globe. Blinken committed to meeting "soon" with staff and families affected by what's commonly called "Havana syndrome," after the first cluster of cases were reported in Cuba's capital in late 2016. (Finnegan, 8/5)
Latinos Twice As Likely As White People To Die From Gunfire
Nearly 3,000 Latinos each year have died from gunfire in the United States over the last two decades, making them twice as likely to be shot to death than white non-Hispanics, according to a study from the Violence Policy Center. Almost 70,000 Latinos were killed with firearms between 1999 and 2019, 66% of them in homicides, according to the center’s data analysis. (Franco, 8/5)
The Washington Post:
She Created A Haven For Disabled Adults. Her Unexpected Death Places It At Risk Of Being Lost.
The future that Nyome Kamara envisioned still sits in plastic. At the beginning of last year, she moved the adult day-care center she founded for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities into a larger building, one that would allow her to pull more names off the wait list and expand services to children. More than a dozen young adults have come to depend on the building in Manassas, Va., as a place where they can spend their days with friends and staff members who know them and their needs. Kamara was working to create a similar outlet for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities on the other side of the building, and despite the pandemic limiting funding and the construction hitting snags, she was only a few tasks away from making that happen. (Vargas, 8/4)
Suit: 'Abandoned' Man Dies In Hospital Waiting Room
A 72-year-old man who was struggling to breathe arched his back and waved his arm in an apparent bid to get someone’s attention shortly before slumping over in an emergency department waiting room, where he went unnoticed for hours, according to surveillance video released Thursday as part of a wrongful-death suit filed by his family. Staff at WellSpan York Hospital in Pennsylvania walked by Terry Odoms a dozen times over the course of two hours before a woman in blue scrubs finally checked on him and found him unresponsive in his wheelchair, the video showed. Efforts to revive him failed, and he was pronounced dead about an hour later. (Rubinkam, 8/6)