New data dashboard tracks overdose deaths by county

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) recently launched an updated Opioid and Drug Overdose Data dashboard that includes county level data on hospitalizations and deaths due to overdose of opioids and other drugs. 

The new dashboard presents information in a new format, making that data more accessible to the public.

According to the new dashboard, between 2016-2021, Grays Harbor saw 171 counts of fatal overdoses and 341 counts of non-fatal hospitalizations. This includes 43 fatal and 52 non-fatal in 2021 alone. 

For Pacific County, they saw less than 10 reported fatal and non-fatal overdoses in 2021 and 35 fatal with 44 non-fatal in the 5 year span.

Based on data behind the dashboard, preliminary figures on overdose deaths in Grays Harbor for 2022 were down as compared to the 2021 rate. 

43 overdose deaths were recorded in 2021, compared to 24 in 2022. These deaths for both years were dominated by opiods and psychostimulants. 

Details tied to individual cities impacted were not included.

Pacific County also saw opioids and psychostimulants leading the data, although they saw a slight increase in both areas based on the preliminary 2022 figures.

According to the adjusted death count, based on population, Grays Harbor in 2021 was the second highest overall rate. Trailing only Asotin county and just above Clallam, with Mason and Jefferson rounding out the top 5. 

For preliminary 2022 numbers, Grays Harbor is 4th highest, behind Mason, Chelan, and Spokane counties. 

Pacific County numbers for both years were too low for statistically relevant comparisons within the dashboard.

The data further goes into overdose deaths by age, sex, and race and ethnicity. Grays Harbor showed the highest death rate, per 100,000, in the 55-64 range leading in 2021 with 35-44 second highest, with men dominating the deaths 2017-2021 

The data states that hospitalizations and deaths recorded on the dashboard are from confirmed overdoses only, and that it takes the Department of Health about 12-18 months to collect the data before it is included.

Preliminary data on the dashboard have been updated through 2022, and cocaine has been added to the list of drugs reported. 

The data are updated quarterly from sources including death certificates and hospital discharge information and can be used to examine opioid morbidity and mortality due to drug overdose to help raise awareness of the opioid epidemic in Washington state.

“Drug overdose, particularly from opioids such as fentanyl, is a serious public health crisis in our country and in our state. Between 2007 and 2021, more than 17,500 Washington residents died from a drug overdose. Sixty-eight percent of those deaths involved an opioid, with the annual number nearly doubling since 2019,” said Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, MD, MPH. “It is our hope that community members and organizations across the state will use this data to understand who in their communities are most affected by opioids, and to advocate for treatment and services.”

Like all publicly available DOH data, the dashboard suppresses small numbers to avoid sharing personal health information.

Information on how to prevent and respond to drug overdoses can be found on the DOH website.