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Overdose statistics – April 2017


Photo: Health care leaders and partners visit DTES Connections earlier this year

Fatal overdoses

According to the BC Coroners Service, from January 1 to March 31, 2017 there were 347 suspected overdose (OD) deaths due to illicit drug use across BC. 116 of the deaths occurred in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, including 100 in Vancouver, 6 in Richmond and 10 in Coastal.

There were 120 suspected drug overdose deaths in March 2017 across BC. This is a 52% increase over the number of deaths occurring in March 2016.

Overdoses in VCH urban areas

From January 1 to April 30, 2017 there were 2,782 illicit or unknown drug overdoses at VCH emergency departments (ED). Opioids accounted for 32% of the visits with heroin being the most commonly reported substance. 37% of the overdose visits were due to an unknown substance. 

88% of the overdoses were seen at Vancouver EDs. The majority (74%) of them went to St. Paul's Hospital. 

The majority of overdoses occurred in males (70%) and those aged 19 to 39 years (59%). 

Of overdose patients to VCH urban EDs, 47% live in Vancouver, 4% were from Richmond, 5% were from Coastal Urban, and 2% were from Coastal Rural. The majority of Vancouver residents were from City Centre and the Downtown Eastside. The remaining patients live in other health authority regions or didn't state where they are from. 


From January 1 to April 30, 2017, there were 46,630 visits to the injection room at Insite. Among those, 1.4% visits resulted in an overdose.

Overdose Prevention Sites

Between December 8, 2016 and April 30, 2017, there were 67,150 visits to the five sites. 475 overdoses have been reversed. 

Just in April 2017, there were 21,063 visits with 140 overdoses reversals, that was a 49% increase on both visits and overdoses reversals over the average number in the previous 3 months.

Overdoses in VCH rural areas

In VCH rural hospitals (Bella Coola General Hospital, RW Large Memorial Hospital, Sechelt Hospital, and Powell River General Hospital) OD reporting began in June 2016. From January 1, 2017 to April 30, 2017, 39 overdoses were reported, of which 46% were opioid related. The majority of ODs (82%) were reported from Sechelt Hospital.

What's happening

Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care are extremely concerned about the high number of overdoses and overdose deaths in our region and throughout the province and continue to take steps to respond. VCH & PHC and its partners are taking a number of steps to reduce opioid/fentanyl-related overdoses, including new actions this month:

  • Created a youth handout: Reduce Your Risk of Overdose

  • Naloxone Risk Assessment tool developed by provincial OD steering committee for places to determine their OD risk 

  • Started an overdose support group at Pender Clinic, 1st Friday of the month

  • Provided 140 training sessions on using naloxone 

  • Expanded the number of sites with take-home naloxone kits available, to 104 sites. 

  • Updated online course for VCH staff: Dispensing Naloxone to Clients, to reflect recent policy changes

  • Held presentation with BC Non-Profit Housing Assoc. (BCNPHA) at RENT in Coquitlam on ‘Shared Using Rooms’

  • Powell St. Getaway moved overdose prevention site OPS next door to 520 Powell St. temporarily while primary site undergoes renovations (expected completion end of June 2017) 

  • VCH Overdose Outreach Team in the DTES available for ongoing support/referrals/connection to care: (604) 360-2874

  • DTES Connections clinic has expanded its hours of operation and is open now to 5:30 p.m.

  • One year anniversary marked of declaration of overdose crisis.

  • VCH’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr Patricia Daly and Provincial Health Officer Dr Perry Kendall presented at a Vancouver City Council meeting in light of the anniversary.

SOURCE: Overdose statistics – April 2017 ( )
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