Examining The Troubling Overdose Statistics For Healthcare Workers

Written By Alla Levin
October 09, 2023

Overdose Statistics For Healthcare Workers

The healthcare field is comprised of caring staff and essential workers who go above and beyond to care for their patients. Despite the care and consideration these workers prioritize for their patients, they also face increased risks that require outside care. A recent study has found that healthcare staff are at a heightened risk of overdose compared to nonhealthcare worker counterparts.

Access to medications and pharmaceuticals is a trigger for those struggling with mental health. We lean on the healthcare workforce as professionals, but we fail to remember that they are also individuals struggling with their own problems. Research has revealed that healthcare staff’s lives are at an alarming risk of overdose; this is an unsettling truth that requires immediate intervention.

The increased healthcare workers’ overdose risk is a disturbing reality. Coming to terms with these findings proactively means creating solutions that can help lower healthcare workers’ risk in and outside the healthcare setting. Below, we examine the troubling overdose statistics for healthcare workers and propose suggestions for decreasing the risk.

The Dynamic: healthcare workers’ overdose risk As Greater Than Nonhealthcare Counterparts

Annuals of Internal Medicine explained the dynamic between healthcare staff and overdose. A sample of healthcare workers and a larger sample of people working outside of healthcare were used to create a study on this topic. The study results indicated that healthcare workers’ overdose risk is far greater than those outside of healthcare. Specifically, nurses, support workers, and social/behavioral workers were associated with the highest overdose risk.

What The Study Revealed

The study found that healthcare workers’ overdose risk is significantly higher than for nonhealthcare counterparts.

The study revealed that:

  • Social and behavioral workers are 112% more likely to have drug overdoses than other healthcare workers.
  • Support workers are at a 100% overdose risk increase compared to registered nurses.
  • Nurses have a 51% higher risk increase of overdose than those working outside healthcare.

Accidents As The Main Cause Of Death

The overdose-caused deaths were primarily due to opioid-related overdoses across healthcare worker staff, which accounted for approximately 84.5% of the overdoses of healthcare workers. Of those deaths, 76% of these deaths were accidental.

Solutions To Reduce The Risk

These findings make it clear that more is to be done to inform healthcare staff about the dangers of overdosing and what can be done to prevent the heightened healthcare workers’ overdose risk. Continued education on the dangers of drug overdose in healthcare should be provided. Measures to reduce healthcare staff stress, such as taking necessary breaks, should be encouraged. An on-call therapist or the option to see management should also be offered without fearing retaliation.

Using Continued Education And Awareness To Decrease Overdose Risk Across Healthcare Staff

The healthcare workers’ overdose risk depicts a harrowing reality: those who save others’ lives are losing their own. By creating a culture of compassion and increasing access to treatment and solutions for healthcare staff stress, the lives of healthcare workers can be protected, and the risk of overdose can decrease.

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