Overdose statistics - September 2016

Overdoses and overdose deaths

October 07, 2016
Overdose statistics - September 2016

Fatal overdoses

  • According to the BC Coroners Service, from January 1 to August 30, 2016 there were 488 overdose (OD) deaths due to illicit drug use across BC. Fentanyl was detected in 60% of them. 113 of the deaths occurred in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

Overdoses in VCH urban areas

  • From January 1 to October 1, 2016 there were 4,628 illicit or unknown drug overdoses presenting to VCH emergency departments (ED). One quarter of them (1,163) were opioid related. 86% of them went to hospitals in Vancouver. The majority (70%) of them to St. Paul’s Hospital.
  • The substance isn’t known for almost half (44%) of all presenting overdoses. When the substance was known the most commonly patient-reported substance was heroin (21%).
  • The majority of overdoses occurred in males (69%) and those aged 19 to 59 years.
  • Approximately 9% of overdose patients were admitted to hospital while 73% of patients were discharged from the ED and 17% left against medical advice.
  • Of overdose patients to VCH urban EDs 47% live in Vancouver, 4% were from Richmond, 6% 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.

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. Since then there have been 8 ODs reported, of which one was opioid related. Of these 8 OD’s, 3 were admitted, 2 were transferred, 2 were discharged and 1 resulted in death.

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:

  • Three stakeholder open houses have been held to discuss the two proposed locations (new DTES Mental Health and Substance Use Drop-in Centre at 528 Powell Street and Heatley Integrated Health Centre at 330 Heatley Street, Vancouver) for supervised injection services. The applications will be ready to be sent to Health Canada in October.
  • The St. Paul’s Rapid Access Addictions Clinic (RAAC) officially opened.
  • Held a media event in Richmond regarding take-home naloxone sites and how to use the kits.
  • Adding new sites for people to obtain take-home naloxone kits, for a total of 62 sites to date. 20 of those sites have been added this year.
  • Completed naloxone training of emergency department staff in Bella Bella, Bella Coola, and Mount St. Joseph's Hospital so that overdose patients may take take-home naloxone kits home with them upon discharge. Currently the kits are available in seven of the 14 urgent care centres and emergency departments to date.   
  • 13 of 14 First Nations communities now have access to take-home naloxone through their own health centres or the local VCH public health units. Follow-up and training planned for the remaining two communities.
  • Naloxone supplies and training has been provided to partnering agencies; Lookout, Rain City, Atira, and Carnegie Centre.

We are also finalizing several other strategies; details will be released in the coming weeks and months. 

For a complete list of actions to date and info about overdose prevention such as how to use naloxone and where free take-home kits are available visit www.vch.ca/overdose.