The rate of drug overdose deaths in the United States has increased steadily since 2000. Injection drug use, a practice associated with infectious disease transmission, has likely increased along with this upward trend in drug overdoses. Injection drug use surveillance is difficult to conduct at a public health department because there are no specific Internal Classification of Diseases codes to identify this risk behavior in hospital discharge or vital registration data. Maricopa County Department of Public Health Office of Epidemiology aimed to identify indications of injection drug use within data from the Office of the Medical Examiner.
Objective: To determine whether data from the Office of the Medical Examiner are useful for conducting injection drug use surveillance in Maricopa County, Arizona, and to describe the characteristics of decedents who died from a drug overdose, were investigated by the county's medical examiner, and had an indication of injection drug use.