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Overdose statistics September 2017


Photo caption: At the new Molson Overdose Prevention Site and Lab VCH’s Sally Kupp, Nurse Educator, teaches people how to recognize and treat an overdose.

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 September 30, 2017 there were 6,256 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. 

600 illicit or unknown drug overdoses were identified in September 2017, that was an 11% decline over the average number of overdoses in the previous 3 months (677 overdoses), and 10% increase over the number of overdoses in September 2016 (547 overdoses).


From January 1 to September 30, 2017, there were 97,728 visits to the supervised injection room at Insite. Among those, 1.3% visits resulted in an overdose. 10,946 visits used the injection room in September 2017, that was 3.1% increase over the average number of visits in the previous 3 months (10,619) visits), and 13% decrease over the number of visits in September 2016 (12,561 visits). 100 visits resulted in an overdose in September 2017, which declined 19% compared to the average overdoses during the previous 3 months (124 overdoses), and 37% increase over the number of overdoses in September 2016 (73 overdoses).

Supervised Consumption Service - Powell Street Gateway 

From opening to September 30, 2017, there were 2,059 visits. 0.5% 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 September 30, 2017 there were 191,349 visits. 999 overdoses were reversed. 

In September alone, there were 22,637 visits with 121 overdose reversals, no change in visits and a 17% increase in overdose reversals over the average number from the previous 3 months (22,634 visits and 103 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 September 30, 2017, 67 overdoses were reported, of which 40% were opioid related. The majority of ODs (75%) 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:

Vancouver Coastal Health in partnership with PHS Community Services Society opened the Molson Overdose Prevention Site and Lab. A media announcement was made.

Two training sessions about overdose and airway management were held in the new Molson lab.

The Real-time Drug Alert and Response System (RADAR) issued one alert about bad batches of drugs. 

Five additional sites are now equipped with take-home naloxone kits for distribution, bringing the total to 114 sites across VCH.
Health Canada gave an additional exemption to the Powell Street Getaway supervised consumption site so clients can use illegal substances through snorting or swallowing, as well as by injection. A media announcement was made.

Staff held more than 12 overdose prevention and how to use naloxone training sessions. 

The VCH Overdose Outreach Team will now receive referrals from patients who presented to the St. Paul's Hospital Emergency Department with an overdose but left without being seen.

VCH launched the Best-practice in Oral Opioid Agonist Therapy (BOOST) Collaborative initiative in partnership with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. This initiative is being piloted in the Vancouver Community of Care with 19 teams to improve the quality, effectiveness, and reach of oral opioid agonist therapy. News article in the Globe and Mail.

The hours DTES Connections have expanded to: Monday to Friday (8:30am to 7:30pm), Weekends and Stat Holidays: 8:30am to 5:30pm

SOURCE: Overdose statistics September 2017 ( )
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