New tool shows fewer overdose victims at Ohio ERs

The state is now making suspected overdose emergency department visit data publicly available, giving a more timely and detailed look at the opioid overdose crisis than the current death certificate data available.

The emergency department dashboard data can be used by state and local public health officials, substance use disorder professionals and others to identify increases and unusual patterns in emergency department visits for suspected overdoses.

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The data shows a statewide decline in suspected emergency department visits for drug overdoses, including when broken down for suspected opioid or suspected heroin ODs. For April 2017, there were 5,638 visits from suspected ODs across Ohio, compared to 3,107 in December 2019.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said the new dashboard provides an additional tool to assist communities with targeting and coordinating prevention efforts and resources.

“Access to timely data is critical for communities to understand the impact of suspected drug overdoses seen in emergency departments and to identify emerging overdose trends.” Acton said.

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The new online tool uses data from a state surveillance system that collects non-identifiable patient information such as the primary reason for a patient’s visit in most of Ohio’s emergency departments.

This dashboard, updated on a monthly basis, lets users break down the data by time frame, county or region, and by different age groups or gender.

“Drug overdose death data is important in understanding and responding to this crisis, but there’s a lag in the data’s availability because it’s based on death certificates, which take time to complete and analyze,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in a statement.

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