Reduce emergency department visits related to nonmedical use of prescription opioids — MPS‑02 Data Methodology and Measurement

About the National Data


Baseline: 3.9 emergency department visits for harms from nonmedical use of prescription opioids per 10,000 population occurred in 2016-17

Target: 3.5 per 10,000

Estimated number of emergency department visits for harms from nonmedical use of prescription opioids.
Estimated number of persons in the U.S.
Target-setting method
Maintain consistency with national programs, regulations, policies, or laws
Target-setting method justification
The target was selected to align with the National Action Plan to Prevent Adverse Drug Events (ADE Action Plan). The plan used a consensus driven process across federal medication safety subject matter experts to identify a target.


Methodology notes

Annual national estimates of Emergency Department (ED) visits due to nonmedical use of prescription opioids are calculated using NEISS-CADES. Population rates of ED visits are calculated using the U.S. Census. To calculate the numerator: Nonmedical use includes abuse (documented by clinician diagnosis or description of recreational use [e.g., "to get high"]); therapeutic misuse (documented therapeutic intent, but not used as directed [e.g., taking someone else's prescription medication for pain, intentionally taking larger doses than prescribed]); and opioid overdoses without indication of therapeutic intent, abuse, or self-harm (e.g., patients found unresponsive by paramedics and unable or unwilling to provide description of circumstances or intent). Only ED visits due to nonmedical use are included in the numerator. Prescription opioids include single-ingredient or combination products. In some cases, prescription opioids are identified based solely on toxicology testing (e.g., when patients are unable or unwilling to provide a drug use history). Cases involving opioid-containing cough medications or unspecified opioids (e.g., diagnosis of opioid overdose but no indication if prescription opioid or heroin) are excluded. Up to four drugs may be implicated in the adverse event. CENSUS NOTE FOR MULTIPLE DATA YEARS: Population denominators for emergency department visit rates are calculated based on sums of the bridged-race estimates of the U.S. resident populations for each of the data years involved (e.g., the denominator of a rate for 2016-2017 combined is the sum of the population estimates for 2016 and 2017). For census years (e.g. 2016), population counts enumerated as of July 1 are used. Intercensal population estimates are used in rate calculations for the years between censuses (e.g. the 2000-2009 intercensal estimates are based on the 2000 and 2010 censuses).