Comparison of Hospital Claims and Poison Center Data to Evaluate Health Impact of Opioids, Cannabis and Synthetic Cannabinoids

Published in: The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, Volume 53, pages 150–153 (March 2022). doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2022.01.004

Posted on RAND.org on March 04, 2022

by George Sam Wang, Christine Buttorff, Asa Wilks, Daniel Schwam, Gregory J. Tung, Shireen Banerji, Richard C. Dart, Rosalie Liccardo Pacula

Read More

Access further information on this document at The American Journal of Emergency Medicine

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Introduction

Over the past 10 years, opioids and cannabis have garnered significant attention due to misuse and legalization trends. Different datasets and surveillance mechanisms can lead to different conclusions the due to a variety of factors. The primary objective of this study was to compare and describe trends of opioid, cannabis, and synthetic cannabinoid-related healthcare encounters and poison center (PC) cases in Colorado, a state that has legalized cannabis.

Methods

This was a retrospective study comparing hospital claims data (Colorado Hospital Association (CHA)) and poison center cases to describe opioid, cannabis and synthetic cannabinoid-related healthcare encounters and exposures in Colorado from 2013 to 2017 using related genetic codes and International Statistical Classification of Disease codes.

Results

Both datasets observed increases in cannabis related encounters and exposures after recreational cannabis legalization in 2014. CHA reported an increase for cannabis-related ER visits from 14,109 in 2013 to 18,118 in 2017 while PC noted a 74.4% increase in cannabis-related cases (125 to 218). CHA inpatient visits associated with cannabis also increased (8311 in 2013 to 14,659 in 2017). On the other hand, Opioid-related exposures to the PC fell (1092 in 2013 to 971 in 2017) while both Opioid-related ER visits (8580 in 2013 to 12,928 in 2017) and inpatient visits in CHA increased (9084 in 2013 to 13,205).

Conclusions

This study demonstrates the differences in surveillance methodology for concurrent drug abuse epidemics using hospital claims and PC data. Both systems provide incomplete reports, but in combination can provide a more complete picture.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.