Actual opioid deaths much higher in Indiana than first thought, report says

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A new study shows opioid-related mortality rates are vastly under reported nationwide and Indiana has one of the largest discrepancies.

Researchers at University of Virginia found corrected opioid-related mortality rates are 24 percent higher than the reported rates across the nation in 2014.

In Indiana, the actual opioid-related mortality rate was more than double compared to what was reported in 2014, according to the report.

"2017 will be a record number of naloxone administrations, which is a record over 2016, which was a record, so it’s still climbing," Eskenazi Emergency Room Doctor Dan O'Donnell said.

O'Donnell presented Tuesday afternoon to others who are on front line of the battle against the opioid epidemic. In addition to being an ER doctor, O'Donnell serves on a group called POINT, aimed at pairing high-risk addicts, usually the ones he see in his ER room, with treatment services, but he says even that has its challenges.

“There’s a lot of barriers to treatment," O'Donnell said. "We don’t have enough space for all these people that we are seeing. We often get bottlenecked to getting them to an addiction psychiatrist or even to a group to start.”

O'Donnell's presentation happened shortly before President Trump met with the Secretary for Health and Human Services, Tom Price, about the opioid issues plaguing America.

O'Donnell said while local health professionals and first responders are taking positive steps toward curbing the opioid epidemic, they will need help from federal and state officials to address some of the underlying issues keeping addicts away from treatment.

"There’s some room to grow in expanding insurance coverage for these folks who really have a chronic disease that need to be addressed as well as treatment spots. We need more treatment spots and those need to be funded as well," O'Donnell said.