New APH opioid dashboard shows data on overdoses, deaths

Austin Public Health (APH) has published a new dashboard to help community members access and view data on opioid overdoses. 

The dashboard is part of an ongoing effort by APH to prevent new overdoses and deaths from opioids.

"By giving the public facts about the number of opioid overdoses in our community as well as the distribution of Naloxone and Narcan, we can raise awareness of how opioid overdoses are ravaging our families, friends, neighbors and loved ones, hopefully leading to greater action to help prevent overdoses," said Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes.

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The dashboard came to be after the Austin City Council passed a resolution and APH held meetings with various stakeholders, community partners, consultants and departments within the City.

The dashboard covers opioid overdose data in Austin and Travis County, including:

  • Non-fatal overdoses
  • Non-fatal overdose hospitalizations
  • Fatal overdoses
  • Naloxone/Narcan distribution from ATCEMS, Austin Public Health, and Travis County Health and Human Services
  • Naloxone/Narcan administration, as reported by ATCEMS
  • Numbers of patients treated in the Buprenorphine Bridge Program (BBP)

The data represented in the dashboard is gathered from sources including: 

  • Texas Syndromic Surveillance (TxS2)
  • Texas Hospital Inpatient Discharge Public Use Data File from Texas Department of State Health Services
  • Travis County Health and Human Services
  • Travis County Medical Examiner

"It is a visual communication tool that we have been using, we found it really effective during COVID-19 to be able to have a dashboard so that data could be pulled together in one location," Janet Pichette, chief epidemiologist at Austin Public Health, said.

Pichette says opioid numbers here aren't as high here as they are on the East and West Coasts.

"We don't think we see it as dramatically here in Texas. I think by getting this data pulled together, it begins to give us a baseline of where we are, where we've been, and where we hope to be at some point," she said.


However, they've still seen an increase in opioid-related deaths in the past few years.

"It could be a result of isolation and mental health issues associated with COVID-19 and people getting sort of isolated, that there has been an increasing trend for several years now," Pichette said. "Those are some of the trends that we can kind of flatten the curve before it gets out of control, just like we did during COVID, we want to flatten the curve. We want our case count to come down."

Experts say it's important to know the signs of overdose, like small pupils, unconsciousness, slowed breathing, or clammy skin. If you think someone is overdosing, give them Narcan and call 911. 

"That data would be instrumental in trying to identify the best way to provide interventions like distributing additional Narcan," Pichette said.

Austin Public Health says they hope to expand on the data in the future.

To learn more about how you can recognize and prevent opioid overdoses, click here.