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Cross Cutting : Overdose

In 2009, for the first time, national vital statistics data showed that drug overdose deaths exceeded motor vehicle deaths. Improving epidemiologic data and prevention strategies for the national epidemic of drug overdose deaths are high priorities, particularly for opioid-related deaths. Death certificate-based vital statistics data are useful for describing the burden of drug overdose deaths but have limited data on the drugs involved. The Overdose Subcommittee was formed to raise the visibility of drug overdose deaths among CSTE members and to improve surveillance for fatal drug overdoses at the state and local levels.

Recently, the CSTE Overdose Subcommittee announced the development of a recommendations document that provides steps for and lessons learned by epidemiologists and public health professionals for improving specific drug overdose reporting on death certificates. These new recommendations include resources for reviewing the quality of drug overdose data within a jurisdiction, and how and why to collaborate with the vital statistics registrar and medical examiners and/or coroners to enlist their support in helping to improve the quality of the data.

This is a continuation of the Overdose Subcommittee members work on a tool that analyzes the text on death certificates and identifies specific drugs mentioned. This tool consists of a SAS program designed to review the text data on the death certificate, an excel spreadsheet with common search terms found on the death certificates, and a text document explaining the tool. These tools can help state analysts to improve drug overdose surveillance activities.

Click here to download the tool
The downloadable zip file includes an Excel document, an SAS document, and a PDF document.

Previously the subcommittee is completed a project to analyze death certificate, toxicology, and medical examiner data to determine the sensitivity of death certificates for identifying drug specific overdose deaths. The subcommittee also collaborated with the injury subcommittee to coordinate activities to implement the recommendations put forth by the Safe States Alliance’s Consensus Recommendations for National and State Poisoning Surveillance (ISW7).

The subcommittee meets monthly via conference calls. For more information about the Overdose Subcommittee and its activities, please contact Megan Toe. Click here to view other Cross Cutting Steering Committee activities.

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Posted by: Stephen Clay, Thursday, March 27, 2014
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