According to the BC Coroners Service, from January 1 to September 30, 2017 there were 1,103 suspected overdose (OD) deaths due to illicit drug use across BC. 334 of the deaths occurred in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, including 281 in Vancouver, 19 in Richmond and 34 in Coastal Region.
There were 80 suspected drug overdose deaths in September 2017 across BC. This is a 31% increase over the number of deaths occurring in September 2016 (61 deaths).
Overdoses in VCH urban areas
From January 1 to October 31, 2017 there were 6,830 illicit or unknown drug overdoses at VCH emergency departments (ED). Opioids accounted for 31% of the visits with heroin being the most commonly reported substance. 39% 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 (58%).
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.
574 illicit or unknown drug overdoses were identified in October 2017, that was an 12% decline over the average number of overdoses in the previous 3 months (650 overdoses), and 16% decline over the number of overdoses in October 2016 (686 overdoses).
From January 1 to October 31, 2017, there were 108,861 visits to the supervised injection room at Insite. Among those, 1.3% visits resulted in an overdose. 11,133 visits used the injection room in October 2017, that was 3.7% increase over the average number of visits in the previous 3 months (10,734) visits), and 9% decrease over the number of visits in October 2016 (12,241 visits). 120 visits resulted in an overdose in October 2017, similar to the average overdoses during the previous 3 months (118 overdoses), and 10% increase over the number of overdoses in October 2016 (109 overdoses).
Supervised Consumption Service - Powell Street Gateway
From opening to October 31, 2017, there were 3,275 visits. 0.6% visits resulted in overdoses.
Overdose Prevention Sites
Since December 2016, six overdose prevention sites opened in Vancouver, five of them are still operating and one turned into a supervised consumption service (Powell Street Getaway). From December to October 31, 2017 there were 207,118 visits to all the sites. 1,122 overdoses were reversed.
In October alone, there were 24,417 visits with 123 overdose reversals, a 13% increase in visits and no change in overdose reversals over the average number in the previous 3 months (21,571 visits and 124 overdoses).
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 October 31, 2017, 73 overdoses were reported, of which 44% were opioid related. The majority of ODs (73%) were reported from Sechelt Hospital.
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:
- One additional site has take-home naloxone available, bringing the total number of sites it's available at VCH to 115.
- Held 27 trainings on overdose prevention and administering naloxone.
- Provided clinical education and overdose response support for new supervised injection service in Ottawa.
- Held a Preventing Burnout and Self-care for Peers session at the Molson Learning Lab.
- Began trials for infrared spectrometer machine to check substances for all ingredients.
- Robert and Lily Lee Community Health Centre peer outreach team increasing frequency of outreach to twice weekly, outreach includes engaging with people around harm reduction supplies, needle collection, and providing training and referrals to other health and related services.
- Distributed a news release to media celebrating the one year anniversary of the Substance use Treatment and Response Team (START) program, which has helped 329 clients detox at home.