Current Suspected Overdose Deaths in Delaware for 2024: Get Help Now!

Find school water testing results and additional resources

Attention Medicaid Participants: Eligibility Renewals Restarted April 1, 2023 logo

DHSS Press Release

Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date:March 06, 2018


Dover (March 6, 2018) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today released data from emergency departments (EDs) showing substantial increases in opioid overdose numbers nationwide, including in Delaware.According to the CDC's Vital Signs report, which examined ED visit data in 45 states, visits for suspected opioid overdoses increased 30 percent nationwide from July 2016 to September 2017. Of 16 states participating in enhanced data surveillance, Delaware reported the second-highest percent change for suspected opioid overdose ED visits during that time period (105 percent).

Of 2,075 suspected overdose-related ED visits during this time, 1,529 (74 percent) were in New Castle County, 355 (17 percent) in Sussex County and 191 (nine percent) in Kent County. Most significantly, the number of ED overdose visits increased most sharply and more than doubled in New Castle County from 189 in the third quarter of 2016 to 464 in the third quarter of 2017. It is important to note, however, that the report does not include the state rates per 100,000 overdose-related deaths, which is a more stable measure of increases and decreases over time.

"Emergency department data can point to alarming increases in opioid overdoses, and clearly we are concerned about the increases here in Delaware," said Division of Public Health (DPH) Director, Dr. Karyl Rattay. "The report's findings highlight the need for enhanced prevention and treatment efforts in EDs, including offering overdose prevention education, naloxone and related training for patients, family members, and friends, initiating buprenorphine in the ED and linking patients to treatment and services in the community as needed."

The Division of Public Health, already recognizing the important role that not only emergency departments, but also first responders have to play in battling the state's opioid epidemic, is holding the Acute Overdose Management System of Care Forum on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, at Delaware Technical Community College in Dover for these audiences.

DPH hopes to use the System of Care approach that it has successfully used with its Trauma, Pediatric and Stroke programs to address opioid overdoses in the state. The System of Care approach focuses on an organized approach to patient management throughout the continuum of care statewide. It involves coordination of care from pre-hospital transport through acute-care discharge, multidisciplinary involvement from dispatch, prehospital, hospitals, medical specialists, prevention, the use of documenting system data resulting in improved communication and collaboration among stakeholders to ensure patients receive the same quality of care no matter where in the state they enter the system.

"Partnerships, organized into a System of Care, will strengthen and expand efforts, providing better patient experience and outcome system-wide," Dr. Rattay said. "We will also use the opportunity to encourage emergency responders at all levels to provide all-important and extremely critical connections to treatment resources for patients in crisis."

Data from 16 states in the CDC's Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance (ESOOS) Program were analyzed for the report, showing quarterly trends by state and rural/urban differences from July 2016 through September 2017. Overall, ED visits for suspected opioid overdoses increased 35 percent in these 16 states hit hard by the epidemic. The data show:

The sharp increases and variation across states and counties indicate the need for better coordination to address overdose outbreaks spreading across county and state borders. Closer coordination between public health and public safety agencies can support identification of changes in supply and use of illicit opioids, further allowing communities to take appropriate action to reduce opioid overdoses.

To learn more about the signs of addiction, prevention and treatment resources, and the availability of naloxone training in the community, visit

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.