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Half of Ontario opioid deaths interacted with health-care system the month before: study

From the CTV News Toronto article

Half of Ontarians who died of an opioid overdose in the early stages of the pandemic had interacted with the health-care system in the month before their deaths, a new report shows.

And one in four had seen a doctor, gone to an emergency department or been discharged from hospital just a week prior, the research shows.

“That represents such an important missed opportunity for us to make sure that our health-care system is serving the needs of people who use drugs and helping connect them to the services that they need to help prevent these fatal overdoses,” said Dr. Tara Gomes, an epidemiologist with Unity Health and investigator with the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network who co-authored the study.

The report, titled “Patterns of Medication and Healthcare Use among People who Died of an Opioid-Related Toxicity during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Ontario,” was released Tuesday by Unity Health and the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network. Public Health Ontario, the chief coroner’s office and ICES, the non-profit health research organization, contributed to the report.

The authors are calling for a safer drug supply, expanded access to low-barrier treatment in health-care settings, affordable, supportive housing as well as more harm-reduction services and supervised consumption sites, especially outside cities.

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