Pa. system tracks and centralizes drug overdose information

Data includes the location of naloxone administration, how many doses were administered and what happened to victims after they received naloxone


This article is taken from the June 2018 issue of eTechBeat, published by the Justice Technology Information Center, a component of the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center System, a program of the National Institute of Justice, (800) 248-2742.

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By Michele Coppola
TechBeat Magazine

Pennsylvania has established a statewide online system to track and share information on drug overdoses, administration of the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, and investigative leads and markings for street drugs.

The Pennsylvania Overdose Information Network (ODIN), implemented in March 2018, was developed by the Pennsylvania State Police in coordination with the Liberty Mid-Atlantic High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HITDA). It serves as a centralized information repository available to criminal justice agencies across the state, and supplements information being collected by the Pennsylvania Department of Health for other first responders and noncriminal justice agencies. Ability to enter and access data in ODIN varies with the type of user.

In this Tuesday, July 3, 2018, photo, a Narcan nasal device, which delivers naloxone, lies on a counter as VOCAL-NY health educator and naloxone coordinator Laura Levine gives a volunteer instructions on how to administer it at the organization's headquarters in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
In this Tuesday, July 3, 2018, photo, a Narcan nasal device, which delivers naloxone, lies on a counter as VOCAL-NY health educator and naloxone coordinator Laura Levine gives a volunteer instructions on how to administer it at the organization's headquarters in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

ODIN data includes location of naloxone administration, how many doses were administered and what happened to victims after they received naloxone.

Illegal drugs come in different kinds of packaging. For example, stamp bags are small wax-coated bags commonly used to hold heroin, and are sometimes stamped with an emblem or symbol by drug dealers. These identifiable markings can possibly indicate who the drug was purchased from or the area from which it was obtained.

“The markings can be entered into ODIN, and criminal justice agencies can search the system to determine if any other agency has drug investigations with similar characteristics and if those incidents can be connected,” says Karina Reed, intelligence analyst supervisor for the Drug Analysis Unit in the State Police’s Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center. “It is basically a pointer index to provide the capability to reach out to investigators in another jurisdiction who also have overdose incidents with similar characteristics to see if the cases are related.”

The information in ODIN can be used by both law enforcement and health care agencies to identify areas with high levels of drug activity, and inform efforts for drug enforcement, prevention and treatment.

ODIN is available to agencies through the Pennsylvania Justice Network (JNET), the state’s primary public safety and criminal justice information portal. ODIN is accessible through personal computers housed at an agency, not from mobile devices such as smartphones.

In 2016, Pennsylvania was among the five states with the highest rates of death due to drug overdose (37.9 per 100,000), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preliminary numbers from the CDC indicate in the 12 months that ended with September 2017, the number of drug overdose deaths in the state was 5,577, an increase of 38.4 percent from the 4,030 that occurred in the previous 12-month period.

Phase 2 of the ODIN project will include mapping of overdose incidents and administration of naloxone, and creating a bridge to various existing individual county systems to eliminate duplicate data entry and share information across platforms.

According to Reed, data on overdoses and naloxone administrations will be shared with the Pennsylvania Opioid Data Dashboard, a public facing website that includes information on various aspects of the opioid problem including treatment and prevention.

Pennsylvania has about 1,117 law enforcement agencies in the state. As of mid-May, 231 agencies had entered data on at least one incident into ODIN, according to Reed, and more than 3,400 users had logged in and used the system. There were 1,403 overdose incidents reported by system users, with 765 law enforcement naloxone administrations, of which there were 50 fatalities. Data goes back to Jan. 1, 2018, because some agencies retroactively entered information into ODIN after it became available in March.

“Our goal is not to just collect the incidents of overdoses but also collect information such as victim demographics, the details about what happened after the victim received naloxone, how many doses of naloxone were administered and the suspected drug that caused the overdose,” Reed says. “The system is designed primarily to fill the strategic void to help inform policy and decision making by law enforcement administrators and leaders in public health and safety at both the state and local levels and be able to share details about what is happening in their communities.”

For more information, contact Karina Reed at karireed@pa.gov.

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