Pa. working on real-time database to track opioid crisis
Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | 03.27.17
(Harrisburg) -- Pennsylvania often has to rely on outdated and incomplete information when assessing the biggest health crisis in a generation.
But the commonwealth is working to change that fact; the state says it's setting up a database that will pull in overdose death information from all 67 coroners and medical examiners.
It will include other critical details, like how many people get treated for an overdose in an emergency room, details on when police and E-M-Ts use the life-saving drug naloxone, and who is getting admitted for addiction treatment.
Even as the opioid crisis has killed thousands of Pennsylvanians, up to date information has been hard to come by.
Drug and Alcohol Programs Acting Secretary Jennifer Smith says data is a key building block when staff look at making policy changes.
"It has been quite a challenge for us here at the state level, just to pull all of that data together into one source and interpret it and understand how our decisions are affecting the data," says Smith. "There's a lot of just disjointedness here within the state, when we're trying to make high-level decisions about what we should do, what direction we should head, what kinds of initiatives we should implement."
Smith says they're still working with coroners and medical examiners to get them all on board for the new database, which will be available to the public. She says it may also help raise awareness of the opioid crisis - noting some people still don't know it's how many lives it's claiming in their community.
It's expected to be running in about six month.
A grant is covering startup costs.
Published in PA Policy