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As the District has seen hundreds of synthetic drug-related hospitalizations over the past several months, including a sharp uptick in cases that started this spring, the D.C. Council will hold a hearing tomorrow on recent violence in hospitals’ emergency rooms, which some believe may stem from patients’ consumption of synthetic cannabinoids.

“Hospital executives have expressed concern of a possible link between violent emergency room incidents and an increase in synthetic drug usage,” according to a release from the office of Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, who chairs the Council’s Committee on Health and Human Services. “Hospitals are seeking additional resources, such as assistance from [the Metropolitan Police Department], to further ensure the safety of hospital patients, guests, and workers.”

D.C.’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department has previously released data showing that the number of patient transports related to synthetic drugs exceeded those related to heart attacks, for example, by more than ten times. In September, FEMS recorded an average of 20 such transports a day as well as a total 611 cases that month. This summer, D.C. increased penalties for businesses found to be selling synthetic drugs; the Council is currently considering legislation from the Office of the Attorney General that would facilitate drug-testing and prosecution.

The witness list for tomorrow’s hearing includes hospital directors, several doctors and nurses, MPD, and FEMS.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery