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Overdose statistics - August 2017


In the photo: VCH’s Dr. Mark Lysyshyn (left) and VANDU’s Hugh Lampkin (right) demonstrate how clients can check their substances for fentanyl and carfentanil. 

Fatal overdoses

According to the BC Coroners Service, from January 1 to July 31, 2017 there were 876 suspected overdose (OD) deaths due to illicit drug use across BC. 270 of the deaths occurred in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, including 226 in Vancouver, 16 in Richmond and 28 in Coastal Region.

There were 91 suspected drug overdose deaths in July 2017 across BC. This is a 30% increase over the number of deaths occurring in July 2016 (70 deaths).

Overdoses in VCH urban areas

From January 1 to August 31, 2017 there were 5,656 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. 38% 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 (71%) and those aged 19 to 39 years (57%). 

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. 

673 illicit or unknown drug overdoses were identified in August 2017, that was an 8% decline over the average number of overdoses in the previous 3 months (734 overdoses), and 23% increase over the number of overdoses in August 2016 (545 overdoses).


From January 1 to August 31, 2017, there were 86,782 visits to the supervised injection room at Insite. Among those, 1.3% visits resulted in an overdose. 10,862 visits used the injection room in August 2017, that was 0.9% increase over the average number of visits in the previous 3 months (10,763) visits), and 19% decrease over the number of visits in August 2016 (13,491 visits). 127 visits resulted in an overdose in August 2017, which declined 5% compared to the average overdoses during the previous 3 months (134 overdoses), and 210% increase over the number of overdoses in August 2016 (41 overdoses).

Supervised Consumption Service - Powell Street Gateway 

From opening to August 31, 2017, there were 1,008 visits. 0.7% visits resulted in overdoses. 

Overdose Prevention Sites

Since December 2016, six overdose prevention sites opened in Vancouver, four of them are still operating and one turned into a supervised consumption service (Powell Street Getaway). From December to August 31, 2017 there were 168,676 visits. 885 overdoses were reversed. 

In August alone, there were 21,077 visits with 116 overdose reversals, that was a 20% decrease in visits and a 18% increase in overdose reversals over the average number from the previous 3 months (26,436 visits and 98 overdoses).

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 from January 1, 2017 to August 31, 2017, 60 overdoses were reported, of which 43% were opioid related. The majority of ODs (72%) 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:

The pilot project that allows people to check their drugs for fentanyl and carfentanil has expanded from Insite to all VCH overdose prevention sites and

Powell Street Getaway supervised consumption service. A media announcement was held. 

The Real-time Drug Alert and Response System (RADAR) has issued five alerts about bad batches of drugs. 

Staff held more than 9 overdose prevention and how to use naloxone training sessions. 

SOURCE: Overdose statistics - August 2017 ( )
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