July 25, 2018

UConn Health zooms in on overdose tracking

PHOTO | UConn Photo
PHOTO | UConn Photo
UConn Health Center campus in Farmington.

UConn Health says a new pilot program that will track Hartford County drug overdoses in real time will help healthcare providers better combat the deadly opioid crisis.

According to UConn Today, the collaboration between UConn Health's emergency medicine department, the Connecticut Poison Control Center and American Medical Response ambulances that launched in May could provide advance early warnings when overdoses are spiking suddenly, perhaps indicating an unusually potent batch in certain areas.

"This new program is increasing our awareness of what is happening on the ground," Peter Canning, EMS coordinator at UConn's John Dempsey Hospital, told UConn Today. "The data gained will help us combat the crisis and rapidly intervene to save more lives."

The program is already plenty busy, reporting 50 overdose cases to the poison control center in May alone, and 48 in June. The data so far shows that 82 percent of overdoses are caused by heroin or fentanyl, and that 63 percent happen in public areas.

Aetna Ambulance Service in south Hartford plans to join the program in the fall, UConn said.

This fall the pilot program will be expanding to include Aetna Ambulance Service in the south end of Hartford.

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