The University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) hospitals use the Epic electronic health record (EHR) software to track patient information. This sub-study was designed to use this readily available data to conduct an epidemiologic study of the drugs detected in patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with a chief complaint and/or diagnosis of overdose or drug-related health problems to better understand patterns in drug use and availability.
The decline in the percentage of specimens testing positive for opiates was not expected. The opiate screen used by the hospitals included in the study primarily detects codeine and the heroin metabolite morphine, but not fentanyl or other synthetic opioids. The decline in opiate positives likely does not reflect patterns of use of synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.
The Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR), which manages the NDEWS Coordinating Center, is participating in the MPowering the State Opioid Use Disorders Project. MPower supports collaborations between research scientists at the University of Maryland’s Baltimore (UMB) and College Park (UMCP) campuses.