For immediate release: September 28, 2023 (23-131)
Contact: DOH Communications
Data aims to help communities better understand overdose deaths and make informed prevention decisions
OLYMPIA – Drug overdose and opioid misuse are serious public health crises impacting communities nationwide. Washington State Department of Health’s (DOH) new Unintentional Drug Overdose Data dashboard provides valuable insights for addressing substance use disorders in the state. Data is used to better understand characteristics and circumstances surrounding each overdose death, including the type of drugs involved and whether they were illicitly manufactured or prescribed.
Relevant drug overdose death data are collected through the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS). SUDORS links information from coroner and medical examiner reports, toxicology, autopsy, and, when possible, prescription drug monitoring program data. Data on the dashboard are refreshed twice a year in the spring and fall.
Thirteen Washington counties currently participate in the program, representing about 88% of statewide overdose deaths. Plans are underway to add more counties, with the goal of including the entire state.
“Our new Unintentional Drug Overdose Data dashboard is an innovative tool that empowers our communities with data to understand, address, and combat the public health crisis caused by substance use disorders in Washington state,” said DOH’s Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, MD, MPH, Chief Science Officer. “To stem the tide of deaths from opioid overdose, we need to raise awareness, increase access to treatment, and get naloxone to people who use drugs. Together, through transparency, compassion, and collaboration, we can turn this data into action to build a safer, healthier future for all Washingtonians."
Related data are also available on DOH’s Opioid and Drug Overdose Data dashboard, which shows all overdose deaths, hospitalizations, and EMS responses sortable by residence, age, sex, and race/ethnicity for every county in Washington. The new Unintentional Drug Overdose Data dashboard displays additional demographic, drug category, and circumstance details on unintentional and undetermined overdose deaths, but does not cover all counties in the state.
Information on how to prevent and respond to drug overdoses can be found on the DOH website. The “Prevent Overdose WA” campaign, developed in response to the growing numbers of fentanyl and opioid overdose deaths, informs Washingtonians about the risks of fentanyl and the power of naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses.