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It’s well documented that the United States has been in the grips of a narcotics addiction crisis for too long. Less established, until now, is the toll it might be taking on healthcare workers who themselves may be addicts and at risk for overdose and resultant death. Unfortunately, a report just published by the Annals of Internal Medicine reveals that those working in a healthcare setting are actually more likely to die from an overdose than the general public. Registered nurses and healthcare support workers, in addition to social/behavioral health workers, are at the highest risk among the groups considered. Based on a prospective cohort study comparing healthcare workers (n=176,000) with non–healthcare workers (n=1,662,000) in the U.S., registered nurses had an adjusted hazard ratio of 2.22 (CI, 1.57 to 3.13) while healthcare support workers had an adjusted hazard ratio of 1.60 (CI, 1.19 to 2.16). For physicians, the picture is less dire (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.61 [CI, 0.19 to 1.93]). The authors suggested that adopting certain workplace changes could have a positive effect. Those include reducing administrative burdens, communicating the availability of mental health services to staff, assisting workers who may be hesitant to seek help due to concerns that their licensure could be in jeopardy, and other measures. They also suggested that efforts to prevent burnout could be fruitful. JUCM published an article that could be helpful in identifying providers who are at risk. Read Recognizing and Preventing Provider Burnout in Urgent Care in our archive now.

Risk for Overdose Is High Among U.S. Healthcare Workers. Could You Spot Those at Risk?