1,300 ER Visits For Drug Overdoses In January and February 2018: DPH

There were more than 1,300 emergency room visits for suspected drug overdoses in Connecticut during the first two months of 2018, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

New data collected as part of a DPH project to gather information on suspected drug overdoses shows that in January and February there were 1,317 visits for suspected overdoses. Of those, there were 405 in New Haven County, 398 in Hartford County, 186 in Fairfield County, 80 in Middlesex County, 68 in Litchfield County, 64 in Tolland County, 62 in Windham County and 54 in New London County.

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Health officials are using the existing EpiCenter Syndromic Surveillance System to collect the data to research and respond to changing patterns of opioid overdoses.

“While we cannot draw conclusions based on two months’ worth of data, we will be able to use the information that we gather through this system, in coordination with our colleagues in the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office, our state agency partners, and local officials, to better understand the types of opioids, including fentanyl and associated substances, in combination with other emerging drugs, causing or contributing to unintentional opioid overdoses and deaths,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino.

EpiCenter collects data from emergency departments across the state. It was originally created to monitor potential bioterrorism after 9/11, but is now used to collect public health information on a variety of topics including the flu, gastrointestinal illness and weather-related emergencies.

Hospitals can categorize the reason for an emergency room visit as “drug and alcohol, including drug/opioid/heroin overdoses,” and the data will be reported to DPH. Both non-fatal and fatal overdoses are reported. DPH plans to release monthly overdose visit data to the public and plans to create a special website to to make the information readily available.

Accidental drug deaths have increased nearly 290 percent since 2012, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME). More than 1,000 overdose deaths were reported in Connecticut in 2017.

State officials said the majority of these deaths are due to opioid abuse. An OCME preliminary report found that 917 people died from accidental intoxication in 2016 and roughly 1,040 people in 2017. Only 357 overdose deaths were reported in 2012.

Across the United States, fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths are increasing with approximately 8 percent fentanyl-related deaths in 2010 to more than 18 percent in 2015. 

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