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January 1980

The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Program: Toxicologic Verification of 1,008 Emergency Room 'Mentions'

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine (Dr Ungerleider); the Department of Pathology, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine (Dr Lundberg); the Department of Toxicology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland (Dr Sunshine); and the Department of Pathology, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles (Dr Walberg).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1980;37(1):106-109. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1980.01780140108013

• One thousand eight emergency room patient records from which reports were contributed to the federal Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) system from the Los Angeles County/ University of Southern California Medical Center in 1977 were studied. The drugs reported to DAWN for these patients were compared with the available toxicology laboratory reports for some of these same patients. The purpose was to test the validity of the data reported to DAWN. Toxicologic analyses had been performed on only 528 patients (52%) of the entire sample. Eighty percent of these tested patients had some positive toxicology result. The DAWN reports were verified in 20% of the tested sample, found to be incorrect in 11% and partially correct or partially incorrect in 69%. Drugs identified toxicologically had varied concentrations, some below or within therapeutic range and some at toxic levels. Thisstudy suggests that the reliability of DAWN reports should be tested prospectively in an unbiased definitive material study.

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