Drug Overdose Toxico-Surveillance (DOTS) Reporting Program

About the Project

Overdoses from opioids and stimulants continues to rise. A significant unaddressed issue in the overdose epidemic is the lack of knowledge on non-fatal overdoses in the United States. In 2017 alone, approximately 970,000 patients were treated for non-fatal overdoses emergency departments across 29 states in the United States. Additionally, approximately 37% of nonfatal overdoses are estimated to involve multiple substances.

However, we currently lack an understanding of the social determinants of overdose deaths compared to nonfatal overdoses. We also lack understanding on the evolving polysubstance use epidemic and its role in drug overdoses. To address this knowledge gap, we created the Drug Overdose Toxic-Surveillance (DOTS) Reporting Program which utilizes our multi-center network of sites to collect detailed clinical information on cases presenting to the ED with overdose to opioids, stimulants, and undifferentiated illicit drugs.

The DOTS project will assess the sociodemographic characteristics, clinical information, contextual data on opioid and/or stimulant overdoses, and obtain biological specimens in patients presenting to 17 participating medical centers around the United States. This project will link patient interviews, chart reviews, and laboratory confirmation of which drugs were used by the patient in order to inform potential regulatory activities and future public health messaging.


This initiative was made possible through funding provided by the FDA. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the FDA; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Principal Investigators

Dr. Jeffrey Brent

Jeffrey Brent, MD, FACMT
University of Colorado School of Medicine
Aurora, CO 

Paul Wax, MD, FACMT

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