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Sparrow's new quarterly drug report shows increases in opioid deaths

Decision to release quarterly reports is to help prevention efforts

Statistics regarding drug-related deaths in the five counties Sparrow Hospital serves as medical examiner are now being released on a quarterly basis, instead of every year. The decision is in response to Michigan’s opioid crisis.

On Tuesday, Sparrow's forensic pathology services released its first quarterly report involving Eaton, Ingham, Ionia, Isabella and Shiawassee counties and unfortunately it's not looking good for mid-Michigan's fight against opioids.

"It shows that we are on pace right now of more accidental drug-overdoses,” said Luke Vogelsberg, Chief Investigator from the Office of Medical Examiner. “Specifically opioid drug over-doses that in previous years if we extrapolate that."

Here’s what the report shows when compared to the first quarter of last year:

*Total drug-related deaths have increased by 20% (7 more)

*Opioid-related deaths increased by 18% (5 more)

*Heroin-related deaths remained constant at 14

*Fentanyl-related deaths increased by 70% (7 more)

*Methadone-related deaths increasing by 50% (2 more)

This deadly opioid crisis is also why Vogelsberg says this once annual drug report will quadruple.

"Our hope is that this information will help better inform the prevention efforts that the other health officials are making in order to prevent these deaths from continuing to rise."

Prescribing practices have changed in mid-Michigan to help reduce the number of opioids provided, but unfortunately Vogelsberg says this has sparked the increase of illicit drug use, specifically, manufactured fentanyl -- a substance that is extremely lethal


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