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Cambria County had Pennsylvania’s fifth-highest rate of hospitalizations for drug overdoses, a new report says. 

There were 45 hospitalizations for overdoses of pain medicine or heroin during 2016, the Pennsylvania Health Cost Containment Council reported Tuesday. 

That put the county’s rate at 39.2 hospitalizations for 100,000 residents, well above the state average of 31.1 hospitalizations. 

“These new findings continue to stress the devastating impact of drugs on Pennsylvania families, communities and taxpayers, regardless of age, race, gender, income level or where one lives,” council Executive Director Joe Martin said in a news release. 

“Combined, overdose hospitalizations for heroin and pain medications cost public and private insurance programs $27 million in 2016 alone.”

Cambria County’s hospitalizations included 17 admitted for heroin and 28 admitted for pain medicine overdoses. 

New hospital diagnostic coding requirements show the statewide rate for pain medicine overdose hospitalizations is much higher than previously thought, the PHC4’s Hospitalizations for Opioid Overdose 2016 research brief says. 

There are an average of 443 hospital admissions every three months for pain medicine overdose. Before the new coding requirement, the average number was 232, the brief says. 

The average age of patients admitted was 33 for heroin overdose and 54 for pain medication.

Lower-income residents had a higher overdose rate in both areas. 

Males had a higher rate for heroin overdose, while females had a higher rate for pain medication.

The report’s statewide figures included all hospitalizations for 67 counties, but individual county reports were provided only for the 42 counties with more than 10 hospitalizations. Somerset and Bedford counties did not meet that criteria.

The full report is available on the council website, www.phc4.org.

By the numbers

Here’s how counties ranked for hospitalization rates for overdoses per 100,000 residents (total hospitalizations for overdose)


1. Philadelphia 47.3 (603)

2. Lackawanna 41.3 (74)

3. Delaware 40.4 (186)

4. Beaver 40.2 (57)

5. Cambria 39.2 (45)

6. Westmoreland 38.2 (116)

20. Blair 30.7 (32)

40. Indiana 18.9 (14)

Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5057. Follow him on Twitter @PhotoGriffer57.

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