Report uses EMS data to shed light on opioid overdose crisis

The report's findings help identify when and where highly potent opioids are introduced into a community


NHTSA Office of EMS

WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first labeled the rise in opioid overdoses in the U.S. an "epidemic" five years ago. Since then, the percentage of patients receiving multiple naloxone administrations and the number of opioid-related deaths has only continued to increase. 

Emergency medical services are often the first health care providers to treat opioid overdose patients and can provide valuable data to aid in determining the severity and scope of the epidemic, at the national level but also in local communities.

The CDC, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration collaborated on research to assess trends and factors that contribute to MNAs. The findings were recently published online

The study's authors analyzed three years of data from the National EMS Information System to examine demographic, geographic, clinical and operational factors associated with MNAs, and to identify opportunities to improve response and treatment.

"This research is just one example of the value of EMS data for monitoring public health, conducting real-time surveillance, and analyzing prehospital assessment and care. The information collected by providers in the field will help us understand the state of the epidemic and save more lives," said NHTSA Office of EMS Director Jon Krohmer, MD. 

The report's findings, particularly the number and location of EMS multiple naloxone administrations, help identify when and where highly potent opioids are introduced into a community, and may inform the need to increase the number of naloxone doses carried by first responders. 

As the opioid crisis continues to burden communities across the country, with an average of 91 deaths per day, the data collected by EMS professionals and shared in this report will continue to play an important role in tracking the pervasiveness of the epidemic and contributing factors.

You can read the full report below.

Response to the Opioid Overdose Crisis

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