Emergency department (ED) syndromic surveillance and hospital discharge data have been used to detect and monitor nonfatal drug overdose, yet few studies have assessed the differences and similarities between these two data sources.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Drug Overdose Surveillance and Epidemiology (DOSE) system data from 14 states were used to compare these two sources at estimating monthly overdose burden and trends from January 2018 through December 2019 for nonfatal all drug, opioid-, heroin-, and stimulant-involved overdoses.
Compared to discharge data, syndromic data captured 13.3% more overall ED visits, 67.8% more all drug overdose visits, 15.6% more opioid-involved overdose visits, and 78.8% more stimulant-involved overdose visits. Discharge data captured 18.9% more heroin-involved overdoses. Significant trends were identified for all drug (Average Monthly Percentage Change [AMPC]=1.1, 95% CI=0.4,1.8) and stimulant-involved overdoses (AMPC=2.4, 95% CI=1.2,3.7) in syndromic data; opioid-involved overdoses increased in both discharge and syndromic data (AMPC=0.9, 95% CI=0.2,1.7; AMPC=1.9, CI=1.1,2.8).
Results demonstrate that discharge data may be better for reporting counts, yet syndromic data are preferable to detect changes quickly and to alert practitioners and public health officials to local overdose clusters. These data sources do serve complementary purposes when examining overdose trends.

Published by Elsevier Inc.