Researchers found health support workers – including home health care workers – have twice the risk of dying from an overdose. Registered nurses are about 50% more likely to die from an overdose, the study found. The study found physicians, other diagnosing and treating health care workers and health technicians were not at higher risk of death from an overdose.
The study included data from 176,000 health care workers age 26 and older between 2008 and 2019. They were compared with 1.6 million non-health care workers. About 0.07% of health workers died from an overdose during the study period. About 85% of overdose deaths were considered opioid-related. Among the general public, 76% of overdose deaths were related to opioids.
Lead researcher Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University Medical Center said the study did not look at reasons for the overdose deaths, but said stress may play a major role. “Many times health care workers are in positions where, despite their efforts, they have very little ability to control the outcome,” Olfson said.