ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Drug overdose patients rushed to some emergency rooms in New York’s Hudson Valley are asked a series of questions: Do you have stable housing? Do you have food? Times and location of overdoses are noted, too.
The information is entered into a new overdose-tracking system that provides near real-time glimpses into the ravages of the opioid-fueled drug crisis. The Hudson Valley Interlink Analytic System is among a number of surveillance systems being adopted around the country by police, government agencies and community groups. While the number of drug overdose deaths appears to have fallen nationally in 2018 for the first time in nearly three decades, the overdose death rate remains about seven times higher than a generation ago.
If there’s a spike in overdoses, the system will sent text alerts to health administrators and community workers. And system users can see what drugs are being abused for faster and focused responses to the ever-evolving problem.
“We can’t get ahead of a situation that’s already passed. This kind of information has to be given almost instantaneously or else the narcotics that we’re trying to track have already been sold, and they’re already on to the next batch,”