Local EMS will begin reporting non-fatal overdoses to the state

State hopes new administrative rule and enhanced data will save lives

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

A new administrative rule approved this week will require local emergency response departments to report occurrences of non-fatal drug overdoses to the Ohio Department of Health, a move to greatly broaden the data available to the state as it looks to negate opioid abuse.

The rule, in effect starting April 8, will be the first time the state has concrete data on how many non-fatal overdoses occur within its borders. Before the rule change, the state only received data on fatal drug overdoses, according to a spokesperson with the office of Gov. Mike DeWine.

“We believe that having this new data will help us reduce the number of drug overdoses, lessen the burden on families and communities, and most importantly, save lives,” said Ohio Department of Health Director Bruce Vanderhoff in a press release.

Dan Suffoletto, a spokesperson for the Montgomery County Community Overdose Action Team, told this news outlet organizations like his will benefit greatly from “the more information that can become readily available as quickly as possible.”

Suffoletto told this news organization that MCCOAT, and most akin organizations, have been working with incomplete data. There’s not a great sense of how many non-fatal overdoses have occurred in Montgomery County.

State officials say they view the new data as a chance to identify repeat overdoses and other trends that might allow the state to hone in on specific populations or geographic areas that are disproportionately affected by non-fatal overdoses.

Additionally, the state plans to use the data to strategize allocations of resources, including treatment referrals and the distribution of fentanyl test strips and free naloxone.

RecoveryOhio Directory Aimee Shadwick said that it will also allow for intervention for those who have previously experienced a drug overdose.

“Studies show an elevated risk of death from overdose in individuals who had recently reported a non-fatal overdose,” Shadwick said. “Adding this new reporting feature will provide healthcare professionals with additional tools available in real time.”

In Montgomery County, year-over-year overdose deaths have fallen throughout the early stages of 2024. Preliminary data from the county coroner shows that January had 15 overdose deaths and February had 16; while those same months in 2023 saw 32 and 27 overdose deaths, respectively.

Follow DDN statehouse reporter Avery Kreemer on X or reach out to him at Avery.Kreemer@coxinc.com or at 614-981-1422.

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