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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county & community efforts.

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Florida Drug Overdose Surveillance and Epidemiology (FL-DOSE)

FL-DOSE Program

Dr. Karen Card - Principal Investigator

The Opioid Epidemic in Florida  

Data from the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics indicates Florida’s unintentional and undetermined drug overdose deaths more than doubled from 2014 to 2016, with 2,175 deaths in 2014, 2,805 in 2015, and 4,672 in 2016. Furthermore, Florida’s opioid overdose rate has tripled since the turn of the century according to Florida’s Statewide Drug Policy Advisory Council 2016 Annual Report, and “there has been a substantial increase in deaths associated with fentanyl and heroin-related drug use.”

Florida passed two important laws in the fight against opioid abuse and misuse: the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, section 893.055, Florida Statutes, and the Pill Mill Law on Opioid Prescribing and Utilization, section 458.3265, Florida Statutes. Despite the success of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and increased regulation of opioid prescriptions, the Department recognized the increasing rate of opioid-involved drug overdose deaths as a growing public health issue. In Spring 2017, Florida’s Governor Scott and the state surgeon general recognized a statewide public health emergency for the opioid epidemic. Additionally, in 2017 the Florida Legislature passed House Bill 249 requiring reporting of controlled substance overdoses.

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control established the Enhanced State Surveillance of Opioid-Involved Morbidity and Mortality Program. The grant funded program enabled Florida to develop and adapt surveillance systems to address the rising rate of opioid overdoses, with a focus on heroin and synthetic opioids such as illicitly manufactured fentanyl.

FL-DOSE Program Approach  

In 2019, the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control awarded Florida a new Overdose Data to Action grant. The new grant expanded the scope of previous drug overdose surveillance system to include more non-opioid related overdoses and strengthened funding of prevention efforts.

With the grant funding, the Department built an enhanced surveillance system and supporting infrastructure that allow a collaborative and targeted response to the growing drug overdose challenge, through the timely dissemination of surveillance data to key stakeholders working to address drug overdoses. The core grant supports resources necessary to 1) monitor non-fatal drug overdose visits at Florida emergency departments and hospitals; 2) leverage Florida’s existing incident-level Emergency Medical Services data collection system to calculate drug overdose indicators; 3) collect, abstract, and input fatal overdose data from Florida's Vital Statistics Death Certificates and Medical Examiners' reports for target counties into the CDC’s National Violent Death Registry System’s State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System; and 4) communicate surveillance results to key stakeholders at state and local levels.