VSRR Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts

This data contains provisional counts for drug overdose deaths based on a current flow of mortality data in the National Vital Statistics System. Counts for the most recent final annual data are provided for comparison. National provisional counts include deaths occurring within the 50 states and the District of Columbia as of the date specified and may not include all deaths that occurred during a given time period. Provisional counts are often incomplete and causes of death may be pending investigation (see Technical notes) resulting in an underestimate relative to final counts. To address this, methods were developed to adjust provisional counts for reporting delays by generating a set of predicted provisional counts (see Technical notes). Starting in June 2018, this monthly data release will include both reported and predicted provisional counts.

The provisional data include: (a) the reported and predicted provisional counts of deaths due to drug overdose occurring nationally and in each jurisdiction; (b) the percentage changes in provisional drug overdose deaths for the current 12 month-ending period compared with the 12-month period ending in the same month of the previous year, by jurisdiction; and (c) the reported and predicted provisional counts of drug overdose deaths involving specific drugs or drug classes occurring nationally and in selected jurisdictions. The reported and predicted provisional counts represent the numbers of deaths due to drug overdose occurring in the 12-month periods ending in the month indicated. These counts include all seasons of the year and are insensitive to variations by seasonality. Deaths are reported by the jurisdiction in which the death occurred.

Several data quality metrics, including the percent completeness in overall death reporting, percentage of deaths with cause of death pending further investigation, and the percentage of drug overdose deaths with specific drugs or drug classes reported are included to aid in interpretation of provisional data as these measures are related to the accuracy of provisional counts (see Technical notes). Reporting of the specific drugs and drug classes involved in drug overdose deaths varies by jurisdiction, and comparisons of death rates involving specific drugs across selected jurisdictions should not be made (see Technical notes). Provisional data will be updated on a monthly basis as additional records are received.

Technical notes

Nature and sources of data

Provisional drug overdose death counts are based on death records received and processed by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) as of a specified cutoff date. The cutoff date is generally the first Sunday of each month. National provisional estimates include deaths occurring within the 50 states and the District of Columbia. NCHS receives the death records from state vital registration offices through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program (VSCP).

The timeliness of provisional mortality surveillance data in the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) database varies by cause of death. The lag time (i.e., the time between when the death occurred and when the data are available for analysis) is longer for drug overdose deaths compared with other causes of death (1). Thus, provisional estimates of drug overdose deaths are reported 6 months after the date of death.

Provisional death counts presented in this data visualization are for “12-month ending periods,” defined as the number of deaths occurring in the 12-month period ending in the month indicated. For example, the 12-month ending period in June 2017 would include deaths occurring from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. The 12-month ending period counts include all seasons of the year and are insensitive to reporting variations by seasonality. Counts for the 12-month period ending in the same month of the previous year are shown for comparison. These provisional counts of drug overdose deaths and re

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