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Medical examiner: At current pace, OD deaths in Milwaukee County could reach 423 by year’s end

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office tweeted about a disturbing trend on Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 14.

Officials said if the current pace continues, by the end of 2019, Milwaukee County could see 423 overdose deaths.

The medical examiner’s office has been extremely busy — punctuated by weekends like the one seen at the end of July — when their techs were investigating at least 14 apparent drug overdose deaths in a single weekend.

Sara Schreiber

When FOX6 News spoke with Sara Schreiber of the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office on July 29, she indicated the spike in overdose deaths at that time had been taxing their limited resources.

“The fact that this office was receiving calls, multiple calls within an hour, five in under five hours of time, three in under an hour of time — it’s very busy,” said Schreiber.

Schreiber said the staff was concerned the number of overdose deaths would continue to rise.

Meanwhile, officials with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services said Wednesday the number of opioid-related deaths was at the lowest level since 2015, according to the most recent data collected and reported through a new online tool featuring interactive charts, graphs, and maps, which can be accessed by CLICKING HERE.

The new tool was unveiled Wednesday, and contains the most up-to-date information collected by DHS on adult opioid usage, youth opioid usage, opioid hospitalizations, and opioid-related deaths. The data is provided in the form of counts, rates, and percentages. Users can change the visuals to display the information by year, drug type, age, sex, and race.

DHS officials offered the below stats gathered using the tool:

  • An estimated one in six Wisconsin adults were prescribed and used an opioid in the past year. The top reasons for opioid prescriptions were for pain related to surgeries and back pain.
  • Hospital emergency room visits for all opioid-related overdoses in Wisconsin increased from 2014 to 2018 by 64%. However, inpatient stays for overdoses from 2014 to 2018 decreased by 15%.
  • The number of opioid-related deaths in Wisconsin in 2018 was 838, according to data reported as of June 30, 2019. That’s a 10% decrease from the 932 deaths reported in 2017. In 2016, there were 850 opioid-related deaths.

The data displayed in the dashboards is adjusted monthly, quarterly, or annually, depending on how often the source of the information is updated.

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