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Enhancing Identification of Opioid-Involved Health Outcomes Using Linked Hospital Care and Mortality Data

Improve Researchers’ Access to Data on Hospital Care Patterns and Risk Factors Associated with Opioid Overdose Deaths
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Start Date
  • 4/15/2018
  • Standardized Collection of Standardized Clinical and Claims Data
  • Improved Use of Clinical Data for Current Research


STATUS: Active Project


National-level statistics on opioid-related hospitalizations are limited and often incomplete. EHR data contain much more detail such as clinical notes and laboratory results, which allow a wider perspective on the hospitalization. These combined data will allow health policy makers, clinicians, and researchers to develop effective prevention strategies and improve patient care. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) houses three data sources that, when combined, will offer broad, national-level data on hospital care and death related to opioid-involved drug overdose. The first source, the National Hospital Care Survey (NHCS), collects inpatient, ED, and outpatient claims and EHR data from over 500 participating hospitals. The National Death Index (NDI), the second source, includes all deaths occurring within the U.S. along with cause of death. The third source, The National Vital Statistics System restricted-use mortality files on drug overdose death (NVSS-M-DO) includes information on specific drugs involved in overdose death. Each of these three sources has limitations such as identification of specific opioids and inclusion of deaths occurring outside of a hospital settings. Prior projects in the OS-PCORTF portfolio including Enhancing Data Resources for Researching Patterns of Mortality in Patient Centered Outcomes in Research: Projects 1-4, and Improving the Mortality Data Infrastructure for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research project have addressed improved specificity within each source. Now, the combination of these three data sources will allow researchers to follow patients with an opioid event from presentation at a hospital to death (if applicable), and retroactively analyze previous encounters for more information. The project will produce several data files that will be available to researchers through the NCHS Research Data Center network.


The overall goal of the project is to improve surveillance and expand researchers’ access to data on hospital care patterns and risk factors associated with opioid overdose deaths.

The project objectives are to:

  • Create a merged data set for research by linking data between hospital care and mortality by merging the NHCS, NDI, and NVSS-M-DO. Analysis of this data set will result in a report exploring characteristics of individuals who have opioid-related events, patterns of hospital use in months prior to death, and comparison of patients and services.

  • Improve researchers’ ability to identify opioid-specific hospital encounters and deaths by improving existing techniques and developing new methods in vocabulary and procedure coding.

  • Enrich the opioid-specific hospital care data available in the linked NHCS, NDI, and NVSS-M-DO dataset with enhanced hospital and death certificate opioid identification.

  • Invest in the infrastructure to improve the collection and reporting of hospital data, and disseminate the methodologies, analyses and knowledge obtained to promote the use of the enhanced data set for PCOR.