Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mapping Coroner Data

Our office almost seems awash in County maps. Maybe awash is hyperbole, but how often do you get to use words like that. Actually we have 4 large (like 3 X 4) maps, not counting our even bigger detailed map of the county. The reason for the 4 maps is that sometimes is “better” to look at something graphically than just numbers and letters on a sheet of paper or computer screen.

We started with one plotting the locations of illicit drug overdose deaths (primarily those involving cocaine and heroin). We have 3 years of data on one map and another with stick pins for this year as we add deaths. It is interesting to see the dispersion across the county of these cases. They aren’t in just the “bad neighborhoods” (I live in Waukegan, considered by many as one of those “bad neighborhoods”), but also in many affluent areas of the county. Free time and disposable income are contributing factors.

The other 2 maps were projects we gave our interns with 4 years of data on each. One map is violent deaths, gun-related and other homicides, along with house fire deaths. The other has car crashes and train related deaths. The violent deaths do clump more in certain communities verifying what most folks would suspect, but it is interesting to see it mapped. The car crash map tells us that there are no particularly fatal intersections or stretches of road that we ought to push to fix.

I think it is interesting stuff and a nice way to get a handle on a bit of the information that flows through the Coroner’s Office.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Quotes about kids (link sent by a friend):

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
James Baldwin

Your children will see what you're all about by what you live rather than what you say.
Dr. Wayne Dyer

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Driving Distracted Kills

Report that could have saved lives is buried for 7 years, holy mackerel.

… cellphone use behind the wheel "has contributed to an increasing number of crashes, injuries and fatalities."

… a problem that could be as bad as drunk driving…

We have seen car crash deaths in which the driver’s cell phone “rang” moments before the crash and likely contributed to the crash. It is a little harder to check to see if they had dialed out, but no doubt there were some of those as well.

Driving distracted is deadly and it is great to finally have the data to prove that released. At the very least, the dangers of driving distracted need to be taught to teens in tandem with the dangers of driving intoxicated from whatever source. Parents need to warn their kids. PSAs (do they do PSAs anymore?) need to heat the airwaves. It is a real threat to the lives of folks in cars. And I think particularly the young, just based on their volume of phone use.

Friday, July 17, 2009

IL HB 497 (awaiting Governor’s signature)

Synopsis As Introduced
Amends the Alcoholism and Other Drug Abuse and Dependency Act. Provides that the Director of the Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse within the Department of Human Services may publish an annual report on statewide drug overdose trends, may establish a program to provide for the publication of drug overdose prevention, recognition, and response literature, may provide advice to State and local officials concerning drug overdose problems, and may award grants to create or support local drug overdose prevention, recognition, and response projects. Requires a health care professional prescribing an opioid antidote to a patient to ensure that the patient receives certain patient information; provides for immunity from disciplinary or other adverse administrative action; and provides for administration of an opioid antidote in an emergency. Requires the Director of the Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, in consultation with statewide organizations, to develop and disseminate to health care professionals, community-based organizations, substance abuse programs, and other organizations training materials in video, electronic, or other formats to facilitate the provision of the required patient information. Effective January 1, 2010.

I think it is great that this bill passed and I hope the Governor signs it to move it along. It will need to go to another governmental committee (I forget the name) where they flesh out the details and hopefully that will go well.

It will be good for everyone to be aware of statewide (and, I hope, regional) trends pertaining to drug overdose. I also hope that the reporting will include information on the nonfatal overdoses. It will be easier to target prevention and intervention based on real data.

In addition to that, making Narcan available in the community (with education and training in its use for emergencies) will undoubtedly save lives.

I look forward to the implementation of this new law and we can join some other states in these prevention efforts.