RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's emergency rooms are seeing a dramatic spike this year in the number of patients seeking treatment for heroin overdoses.
Data provided by the Virginia Department of Health shows that the state's emergency departments reported nearly 500 visits in the first four months of 2016 with heroin overdose as the primary complaint or discharge diagnosis.
That's roughly two-and-a half times the number of emergency department visits for heroin overdoses reported over the same period last year.
Health officials say the figures point to a surge in heroin abuse in Virginia and elsewhere due in part to policies that have made it harder for addicts to get prescription painkillers.
The data captures visits at most of Virginia's hospitals and free-standing emergency departments.