Deaths linked to opioids in Ontario hospitals highest since 2014

More than 250 patients have died in hospitals in Ontario since 2009, according to a new report

The province of Ontario is reporting the highest recorded COVID-19 daily case count in nearly six months, the Department of Health and Long-Term Care has said.

Since April of this year, the number of patients treated with the pain-reducing narcotic hydromorphone in the province’s hospitals has risen by 32,685.

The report also revealed that there were 876 more deaths in the province between April of 2017 and July of this year, of which 311 were from drug-related causes.

Local hospitals, various governments, medication reviews and medication management services are taking action to deal with the growing problem.

In Kingston, the Seneca hospital recently opened a specialist drug and stroke unit that has taken over most of the hospital’s emergency department.

More than 250 patients have died in Ontario hospitals since 2009, according to the health ministry. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Ontario has an annual budget of $7bn for health care.

But a former Liberal cabinet minister criticised the report’s use of COVID-19, an irregular number used for daily high COVID-pain deaths in patients dying of abuse-related problems.

Dr Eric Hoskins, former medical officer of health for the province, said the number contained information about patients who were put into the province’s hospice system and eventually brought to their own deaths.

“Under the duress of death, these patients’ unbearable pain is brought to an end. That’s not bad – but it’s completely different from acute pain when patients face their own mortality,” Hoskins said.

“What must be kept in mind is that 806 of these deaths were due to abused pain. If these COVID-19 COVID-deaths were a single event, we would have had a disaster on our hands,” he said.

Leave a Comment