Dec 6, 2017

​More opioid patients are dying in the hospital

We're getting better at keeping hospital patients alive — unless they're in the hospital because of opioids. A study published in the new issue of Health Affairs finds that mortality rates for opioid patients quadrupled between 2000 and 2014. The hospital mortality rate for other drugs stayed about the same, while survival rates for all other hospitalizations improved over the same period.

Between the lines: Patients admitted for opioid/heroin poisoning were more likely to be: white, ages 50–64, Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities, and residents of lower-income areas.

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Hospitals' dueling financial realities

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As hospital prices rise and much of the sector continues to rake in cash, rural hospitals continue to shutter.

Why it matters: There's no way to address U.S. health care spending without cutting hospital costs. But blanket cuts could hurt hospitals that are already struggling to keep their doors open, leaving vulnerable patients without access to care.

Go deeperArrowJan 13, 2020

FDA fumbled opioid safety program

Photo: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

The FDA and opioid manufacturers failed to independently determine whether physician safety training and patient medication guides mitigated improper opioid prescriptions and misuse, according to new federal records obtained by researchers through the Freedom of Information Act.

Why it matters: Federal regulators created this safety program in 2012 because opioid addictions, overdoses and deaths were rising, but researchers say the FDA's program relied on poor designs and data collection — and ultimately did nothing to prevent the opioid crisis from getting worse.

Keep ReadingArrowDec 30, 2019

Surprise medical bills inflate everyone's health insurance premiums

Data: Health Affairs; Chart: Axios Visuals

Four specialties that are often out-of-network — anesthesiologists, pathologists, radiologists and assistant surgeons — raise employer insurance spending by 3.4%, according to a new study in Health Affairs.

Why it matters: Surprise medical bills are not only unaffordable for the patients who receive them, but also inflate everyone else's premiums.

Go deeperArrowDec 17, 2019