Hancock Countys 2017 death toll from opioid overdoses, already at a record high, continues to climb.
Hancock Public Health has confirmed 23 deaths from overdoses in 2017 so far, said Krista Pruitt, injury prevention coordinator at the agency.
More suspected overdose deaths are pending, but may not be confirmed until mid-2018, due to backlogs at coroners offices in Ohio.
The deaths could reach above 30.
In 2016, 15 Hancock County deaths were ruled accidental due to an overdose of drugs. In 2015, there were 16 overdose deaths.
The majority of the overdose deaths stem from an opiate mix in the victims systems, according to coroners reports.
Only two of the 23 deaths last year did not include some sort of opioid in the mix, Pruitt said. Those two deaths were both related to overdoses on prescription medications.
Hancock Public Health doesnt count a death as an overdose death until it is ruled as such by a coroner.
Toxicology test results are taking longer to obtain because of the volume of deaths related to the opioid epidemic, and coroner rulings sometimes take six months or more to be issued.
Hancock County contracts out autopsies to Lucas County, as do most northwestern Ohio counties.
The majority of Hancock Countys overdose deaths in 2017 were related to fentanyl and carfentanil in some form, according to coroners reports. Fentanyl and carfentanil are considered among the deadliest forms of opioids.
Hancock County also saw plenty of non-fatal overdoses last year. Overdose visits to the hospital climbed to 297 last year. Pruitt said that number could include the same person making multiple trips.