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Public Health Reports: Use of Emergency Department Data to Monitor and Respond to an Increase in Opioid Overdoses in New Hampshire, 2011 – 2015

In a recent article in Public Health Reports, Ms. Elizabeth R. Daly, Mr. Kenneth Dufault, Mr. David J. Swenson, Mr. Paul Lakevicius, Ms. Erin Metcalf, and Dr. Benjamin P. Chan from New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services report on their use of the data from New Hampshire’s Emergency Department (ED) syndromic surveillance system to compare and assess trends in the occurrence of opioid-related ED encounters. Using data acquired from chief complaint text fields and ICD codes from ED encounters, authors found that >20 000 total opioid-related ED visits were made in New Hampshire from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2015. The number of opioid-related ED encounters increased by 70% during that period. The January 2016 report from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified New Hampshire as having the third-highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the country in 2014. The article is part of the PHR’s supplementary issue “Using Syndromic Surveillance for All-Hazards Public Health Surveillance” which describes the use of syndromic surveillance, initially developed for bioterrorism and infectious disease detection, for event identification, situational awareness, and enhanced response to diseases, conditions, and activities that affect population health.

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