The number of opioid-related overdose deaths in the United States continues to increase. In 2015 alone, over 52,000 Americans died of drug overdose, an average of nearly 150 every day. Most of these deaths are due in whole or part to opioids, both prescription painkillers and illicit drugs like heroin. Recently, powerful synthetic versions of the drug fentanyl have begun to infiltrate the illicit drug market, driving a significant increase in overdose deaths.
Unfortunately, variations among jurisdictions in determining and reporting causes of death along with delays in obtaining and reporting fatality data often result in an incomplete and out-of-date view into this rapidly evolving epidemic. Particularly as powerful synthetic opioids increasingly populate the illicit drug supply, it is imperative that health departments and other relevant actors are provided with accurate, timely and actionable information on drug-related overdose. To help achieve this goal, four states (New Mexico, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia) now require health care practitioners to report overdose cases in a timely manner to the state health department or other governmental agency.
However, most states have not changed law or policy to require timely reporting of non-fatal overdose. Because all states have a system by which certain diseases and conditions are required to be reported to the state health department, adding non-fatal overdose to the list of reportable conditions may be an effective and cost-effective way of improving access to this important data.
This Fact Sheet provides a snapshot of current and proposed laws, regulations, and sub-regulatory sources governing mandatory disease reporting and a description of the laws and regulations governing reporting of overdoses in the jurisdictions that require or explicitly permit it.
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