Predicting Mortality Risk After a Hospital or Emergency Department Visit for Nonfatal Opioid Overdose

Jingchuan Guo, Wei Hsuan Lo-Ciganic, Qingnan Yang, James L. Huang, Jeremy C. Weiss, Gerald Cochran, Daniel C. Malone, Courtney C. Kuza, Adam J. Gordon, Julie M. Donohue, Walid F. Gellad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Survivors of opioid overdose have substantially increased mortality risk, although this risk is not evenly distributed across individuals. No study has focused on predicting an individual’s risk of death after a nonfatal opioid overdose. Objective: To predict risk of death after a nonfatal opioid overdose. Design and Participants: This retrospective cohort study included 9686 Pennsylvania Medicaid beneficiaries with an emergency department or inpatient claim for nonfatal opioid overdose in 2014–2016. The index date was the first overdose claim during this period. Exposures, Main Outcome, and Measures: Predictor candidates were measured in the 180 days before the index overdose. Primary outcome was 180-day all-cause mortality. Using a gradient boosting machine model, we classified beneficiaries into six subgroups according to their risk of mortality (< 25th percentile of the risk score, 25th to < 50th, 50th to < 75th, 75th to < 90th, 90th to < 98th, ≥ 98th). We then measured receipt of medication for opioid use disorder (OUD), risk mitigation interventions (e.g., prescriptions for naloxone), and prescription opioids filled in the 180 days after the index overdose, by risk subgroup. Key Results: Of eligible beneficiaries, 347 (3.6%) died within 180 days after the index overdose. The C-statistic of the mortality prediction model was 0.71. In the highest risk subgroup, the observed 180-day mortality rate was 20.3%, while in the lowest risk subgroup, it was 1.5%. Medication for OUD and risk mitigation interventions after overdose were more commonly seen in lower risk groups, while opioid prescriptions were more likely to be used in higher risk groups (both p trends <.001). Conclusions: A risk prediction model performed well for classifying mortality risk after a nonfatal opioid overdose. This prediction score can identify high-risk subgroups to target interventions to improve outcomes among overdose survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)908-915
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of General Internal Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Medicaid
  • machine learning
  • mortality
  • nonfatal opioid overdose
  • prediction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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