Behavioral Health
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Reporting changes for non-fatal overdoses in Ohio

Dylan Armstrong
Public Policy Fellow
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April 22, 2024
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When fighting a societal issue as devastating and widespread as the opioid epidemic, it is important that policymakers, public health officials, recovery specialists, and everyone else working to save lives and keep communities safe, have the best tools and information available to make informed decisions and effectively distribute their efforts. For those fighting the good fight in Ohio, the data available to inform their decisions just got a bit better.

Emergency departments must now report both fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses

On March 25, 2024, The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR), tasked with reviewing proposed new, amended, and rescinded rules from over 100 state agencies to ensure they do not exceed the rule-making authority granted to them by the General Assembly, approved the addition of rule 3701-3-16 to the Ohio Administrative Code. The new rule, which took effect on April 8th, requires emergency departments to report non-fatal drug overdoses to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). Previously, emergency departments were only required to report fatal drug overdoses to ODH.

The rule provides state officials with a more precise and up-to-date perspective on non-fatal overdoses. This will enhance ODH’s ability to identify trends, including recurrent overdoses, and potentially allow for quicker identification of groups or regions disproportionately affected by non-fatal overdoses. Additionally, this data will inform both the state and Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided With Naloxone), a network of opioid overdose educators and naloxone distribution programs, where referrals to treatment and distribution of resources, such as naloxone or fentanyl test strips, will have the greatest impact in preventing overdoses.  

New rule will help coordination of care for those at greatest risk of overdose

The new rule, and the data that will come from it, is welcomed by those in the fight against drug overdose deaths, particularly those tirelessly working to address the opioid epidemic. RecoveryOhio Director Aimee Shadwick stated that the new rule will impact the coordination of care for individuals who have previously experienced an overdose and sited research that show a greater risk of death from overdose in those who recently reported a non-fatal overdose. ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff echoed the excitement for the new data; he indicated that it would reduce drug overdoses, save lives, and lessen the impact on our communities.

The Center for Community Solutions will continue to monitor and report on overdose data published by the state and advocate for policies that will help save lives and fight the opioid epidemic. For anyone interested in receiving naloxone or fentanyl test strips, RecoveryOhio provides access to these life-saving tools at no cost and can be acquired through local distribution sites or directed mailed to your home.  

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