Data Collection

In each participating facility, a reporter, usually a member of the hospital ED or medical records staff, is assigned to conduct data collection. The reporter reviews records for each case appropriate for inclusion in the DAWN system and records demographic information and information about the circumstances of the episode, including the date and time of the ED visit and the reason the person came to the ED. For each drug mentioned, the DAWN report includes the form in which the drug was acquired, its source, and its route of administration. Only one reason for taking substances is recorded. A report for each case is then submitted to SAMHSA for data entry.

The following criteria are used in determining whether a case is reportable to DAWN. For each record, the patient must be between six and ninety-seven years of age and must meet all of the following criteria:

1. The patient was treated in the hospital s emergency department.

2. The patient's presenting problem(s) had been induced by or related to drug use, regardless of whether the drug ingestion occurred minutes or hours before the visit.

3. The case involved the nonmedical use of a legal drug or any use of an illegal drug.

4. The patient's reason for taking the substance(s) included one of the following: (1) DEPENDENCE, (2) SUICIDE attempt or gesture, or (3) psychic effects.

DAWN cases do not include accidental ingestion or inhalation of a substance, nor do they include adverse reactions to prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Up to four substances can be reported for any drug-abuse death or emergency-room case. Alcohol is reportable only when it is used in combination with a reportable substance.

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