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The Tragic Toll of Opioid Abuse in America [INFOGRAPHIC]

January 27, 2020

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services declared a public health emergency to address the opioid crisis.1 But while increased awareness and better prescribing practices have helped—overall prescribing rates peaked in 2012 and have declined each year since to a 12-year low in 2017.3—there is still cause for concern. In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans died of an opioid overdose and an estimated 1.7 million suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioids.2

In this infographic:

  • Age-adjusted drug overdose deaths involving opioids4
  • Opioid claims by the numbers, 2009-2018:
    • Average indemnity payments and defense costs
    • Most frequent primary allegations and medical specialties
For Risk Management recommendations supporting sound pain management principles to help mitigate these risks and improve patient safety, download the special report, "Strategies for Increasing Patient Safety with Opioids."


1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. “What is the U.S. Opioid Epidemic?” Content last reviewed on September 4, 2019.

2. National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Opioid Crisis.” Last updated January 2019.

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “U.S. Prescribing Rate Maps.” Last reviewed: October 3, 2018.

4. Holly Hedegaard, et al. “Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2017.” NCHS Data Brief No. 329. National Center for Health Statistics. 2018. Last reviewed: November 29, 2018. (Statistics on age-adjusted drug overdose deaths are taken from or calculated using data from the data tables linked in the article.)

Special data request provided by MPL Association Data Sharing Project closed claims database. Copyright 2019, MPL Association. Referenced data indicated in the special report.


Filed under: Infographic, Patient Care



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