© 2023 KVPR | Valley Public Radio - White Ash Broadcasting, Inc. :: 89.3 Fresno / 89.1 Bakersfield
89.3 Fresno | 89.1 Bakersfield
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

State Corrects Alarming Fentanyl Overdose Data

Recent state data that had raised the alarm on opioid overdose deaths turns out to have been inaccurate. 

In late May, new data from the California Department of Public Health had pointed to an alarming trend: The number of Californians who died of overdoses due to the street drug fentanyl had tripled between 2016 and 2017. We reported on the problem here, as did other news outlets.

But there was one problem: The data were wrong. The state had inadvertently doubled its tally of fentanyl-related deaths, and it’s issued a correction. In an email statement, a health department spokesperson said the numbers were misreported due to a data processing error.

In reality, in 2017, 373 Californians died of fentanyl-related deaths, not 746. Compared to 2016, the number marks a 1-year increase not of 300 percent, but 57 percent.

However, a 57 percent increase in fentanyl-related deaths is still substantial - especially since in 2017, the total number of overdose deaths from all opioids in California dropped to its lowest since 2012.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
Related Content