Sparrow: Q3 reports shows sharp rise in drug deaths in local counties

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LANSING, MI – Sparrow Forensic Pathology Services released its Q3 report on Wednesday, on drug-related deaths in the five counties in which Sparrow serves as Medical Examiner.

According to that report, there was a 70 percent rise in drug-related deaths from July 1 to Sept. 30 of this year, with large jumps in mortality due to opioid and fentanyl use.

The report provides detail on each drug death and the type of drug involved.

Highlight of the report include:

  • Total drug-related deaths increased by 70% (21 more)
  • Opioid-related deaths increased by 95.6% (22 more)
  • Fentanyl and/or fentanyl analogue-related deaths increased by 110% (22 more)
  • Cocaine-related deaths decreased by 55% (5 fewer)
  • Amphetamine/Methamphetamine-related deaths increased by 62.5% (5 more)
  • Benzodiazepine-related deaths increased by 50% (3 more)
  • 20% of all opioid-related deaths in Q3 2020 also involved at least one benzodiazepine
  • 76.5% of all drug-related deaths in Q3 2020 were due to two or more substances
  • 17.8% of all opioid-related deaths in Q3 2020 also involved ethanol (alcohol)
  • 17.6% of all drug related deaths in Q3 2020 involved ethanol (alcohol)

All comparisons on the Highlights page are made to the data from Q3 (July 1 to September 30) of 2020. As stated above, most drug-related deaths are due to a combination of more than one substance. As such, numerous deaths fall into multiple of the below statistical categories (i.e.
all heroin, fentanyl, methadone, and fentanyl analogue-related deaths are included in the opioid-related deaths category).

The full report, and other Forensic Pathology findings, can be found here.

This chart describes occurrences in one death of a given class of drug. As most drug-related deaths are due to two or more substances, the same death may fall into multiple categories (e.g. death due to fentanyl and alprazolam intoxication falls into the opioids, benzodiazepines, fentanyl and/or analogues, and opioids with benzodiazepines categories). Multiple of the same class of drug in the same death counts as only one occurrence of that class of drugs (e.g. death due to heroin and hydrocodone intoxication –both of these are opioids so this death falls only in the opioids category, as one occurrence). The “other” category is for occurrences of drug-related deaths due solely to drugs which do not fall into the other listed categories.

As the Office of the Medical Examiner for the five counties, Sparrow is nationally accredited by the National Association of Medical Examiners to perform autopsies, postmortem examinations, and on-scene forensic death investigations as an important part of the investigation process.

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