Utilization History of Emergency Medical Services Among West Virginia Drug Overdose Decedents


West Virginia continues to lead the nation in drug overdose deaths per capita. In 2016, the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths was 52 per 100,0001. In the same year, there were roughly 64,000 overdose deaths in the United States, a 21.5% rate increase from 20151. The drug overdose epidemic in West Virginia has taken a significant toll on individuals, families, communities, and resources. As part of a rapid response plan to help reduce the burden of overdose deaths, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources conducted an investigative report to study 830 overdose related deaths that occurred in 2016 and identify opportunities for intervention in the 12 months prior to death. Utilization of EMS among decedents was analyzed to determine demographic differences between decedents at different time points of EMS contact: EMS contact at death only; EMS contact 12 months prior to death only; and both EMS contact at death and 12 months prior to death.

Objective: Opioid and illicit substance abuse continues to have major public health implications in the state of West Virginia. By analyzing the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) utilization history of drug overdose decedents, opportunities to improve surveillance of fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses can be identified which can help lead prevention efforts of fatal drug overdoses in the state.

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January, 2019

June 18, 2019

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