DHMH Launches New Initiative to Reach Overdose Survivors

In an effort to reduce overdose fatalities, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has announced a new data sharing initiative with hospitals that will help identify individuals who have survived previous overdoses and target them for outreach and treatment services. As announced in the DHMH Press Release:

“Every hospitalization and emergency department visit for an overdose is an opportunity to prevent the next one,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Secretary of DHMH. “It’s an opportunity to save someone’s life.”

The department has been working with select jurisdictions that have established reporting protocols between hospitals and addiction outreach.  To expand this effort, DHMH will:

  1. By January 15, establish a secure, voluntary reporting protocol of all nonfatal overdoses with at least five pilot hospitals. Local health departments and addiction treatment services will then conduct outreach to help refer individuals to treatment and to provide education and resources on overdose prevention.

  2. By March 1, extend the voluntary reporting protocol statewide to all Maryland hospitals.

  3. By April 15, review the experience with voluntary reporting from the perspective of reporting physicians, individuals who overdosed, outreach workers, and others and consider additional steps, including mandatory reporting of nonfatal overdoses.

The press release cited statistics that 59% of individuals who died from an overdose in 2013 had visited a hospital or emergency department for an overdose at least once in the year before the overdose death.

For more information read the full DHMH Press Release.