What We're Reading: Opioids Cause More Fatalities Than Overdose Deaths

June 15, 2016

What we're reading, June 15, 2016: opioids also linked to heart-related deaths and fatalities other than overdoses; judge overrules Federal Trade Commission's efforts to block merger of Advocate Health Care and NorthShore University HealthSystem in Illinois; and using social media to monitor patients outside of the healthcare setting.

Opioids may also be linked to heart-related deaths and other fatalities in addition to overdose deaths. According to the AP, a study found that while 64% of patients taking opioids had a higher risk of dying within 6 months of starting their medication, only 18% of deaths were due to unintentional overdoses. The prescription painkillers are responsible for slowing breathing or worsening the type of disrupted breathing that occurs with sleep apnea, ultimately resulting in heart attacks or death.

In Illinois, a federal judge has overruled efforts by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to block a merger of 2 hospital systems. The FTC was interested in preventing the deal because it felt the system emerging as a result of the merger of Advocate Health Care and NorthShore University HealthSystem would dominate the North Shore area of Chicago, reported The New York Times. The judge’s reasoning has not been explained yet, but his decision will be released after the hospital systems can redact sensitive competitive information.

Doctors could start using social media to follow patients’ health issues. FastCompany reported that people are using social media to discuss health issues they normally don’t tell their doctors, which providers can use to monitor patients outside of a healthcare setting. However, few health systems are currently equipped to eal with remote patient monitoring.