Chatham County ranks high with opioid overdose ER visits

Local physicians work to reduce local opioid use
Published: Apr. 24, 2019 at 7:11 PM EDT
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CHATHAM COUNTY, GA (WTOC) - Drug overdose patients aren’t a rare sighting at Memorial Health’s Emergency Room.

Dr. Jay Goldstein is the Medical Director of Memorial Health’s Emergency Department. He says overdose patients are unfortunately a common occurrence.

“This goes far and beyond just opioid addiction. I mean, there are a lot of other drugs in the streets that we see here in Chatham County,” Goldstein said.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, in March of 2019, the state had 1,063 emergency department visits due to opioid overdoses. Chatham County was the fifth highest ranked county in the state when it comes to the number of opioid overdose ER visits proportionate to the local population.

When a patient is wheeled into the ER, Dr. Goldstein says its not always obvious the person is struggling with an opioid overdose.

“A lot of times, you’ll see low respiration, they’ll stop breathing, their blood pressure will be real low,” Goldstein said. “Those symptoms can be linked to a number of different health conditions.”

In addition to treating the patient and reversing the effects when ER staff determine its an opioid overdose, Dr. Goldstein says Memorial recognizes the medical industry plays an active role in the problem.

“A lot of the opioid addiction can be attributed to some patients getting their first dose of narcotic analgesic through a medical prescriber,” Goldstein said.

Dr. Goldstein says Memorial Health physicians are taking proactive steps to help reduce the opioid problem.

“Were giving different medications, giving different treatment options for pain, trying to get the patients off of the pain medicines as quickly as possible," he said.

To see a more detailed breakdown of local opioid overdose numbers, click here.

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