Doctor Holstege UVAHS
Dr. Christopher Holstege, MD, FAACT, FACMT

Current data demonstrates a marked rise in deaths related to poisoning within the Commonwealth of Virginia. This rise is attributed, in part, to both prescription opioid drugs and to a recent marked increase in heroin abuse as well as the emergence of synthetics within the fentanyl class (e.g., carfentanil). Besides the abuse of these opioids, the Blue Ridge Poison Center is also receiving calls pertaining to patients who are abusing other synthetics (e.g., U4700), plants (e.g., kratom, poppy seeds), and over the counter drugs (e.g., loperamide).

The University of Virginia Emergency Department is caring for patients who succumb to complications associated with these substances. Dr. Christopher Holstege, MD, FAACT, FACMT, is Chief of the Division of Medical Toxicology at the University of Virginia and Director of Blue Ridge Poison Center. His department strives to compassionately care for those affected by opioid abuse.

“Our team is working collaboratively with many other professionals across the Commonwealth to help educate the public of the dangers of such opioid abuse through public (e.g., school) and professional (e.g., first responders) education sessions,” says Dr. Holstege. “We are also conducting in-depth epidemiologic research into the trends of such opioid-related illness and fatalities.”

The Department of Emergency Medicine consists of a dedicated group of professionals with years of experience in the field of clinical toxicology. The Division of Medical Toxicology, within the Department of Emergency Medicine, is working closely with health providers on how to compassionately care for all opioid poisoned patients using the best medical evidence available.

“Through the Blue Ridge Poison Center, we help to manage cases at 48 other healthcare centers across the Commonwealth, many in areas with limited resources (e.g., federally designated health professional shortage areas),” Dr. Holstege explains. “Our care not only includes those who are opioid substance abusers, but also other individuals such as toddlers who accidentally ingest opioids and suicidal patients who take opioid overdoses.”

Every day the Department’s personnel strive for excellence to serve the populace living and working in our service area.