Hospitals See Cocktail of Drugs in Most Overdose Victims

The Baltimore Sun reports that a study of two local emergency rooms found that many overdose patients — up to two-thirds — were found to have a mix of illegal drugs in their urine. In some cases as much as six different drugs.

However, doctors are often unaware of many of these drugs at the time of initial screening and only become aware of them outside labs return with more detailed findings.

Emergency rooms tend to use a basic urine test that, like a pregnancy test, turns colors when it detects certain chemicals in drugs. The test is quick and inexpensive, but detects fewer than a dozen drugs, including opioids. The tests don’t detect drugs such as fentanyl and oxycodone, both of which have contributed to record overdoses across the country.

The Sun article explains how it is important for doctors to know what their patients have overdosed on in order to provide the right long-term course of treatment. It also shows how this delay of information coupled with the difficulties of identifying illicit drugs in an evolving synthetic market can make a doctors job more challenging.

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In treating overdose patients, emergency rooms face challenge in detecting mix of drugs (The Baltimore Sun)