As abuse of heroin, Oxycontin and other opioids skyrockets in communities across the United States, some hospitals are trying groundbreaking approaches to stem the tide of overdose deaths, according to Hospitals & Health Networks.
For example, Anderson, Indiana's Community Hospital is providing all 250 Madison County patrol officers with the drug naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, which is used to rapidly reverse the effects of an overdose on opiate drugs.
Law enforcement often encounter overdose victims, who are mostly unconscious and unresponsive, before other first responders. Seconds count in an opiate overdose. The two minutes between a patrol officer calling for paramedics and their arrival can make the difference between life and death.
"The effort needs to extend beyond our four walls," Holly Renz, the hospital's community services director, told H&HN, "but law enforcement has a pretty tight budget. Since we are seeing an uptick in heroin usage and overdoses, we want to prevent deaths and minimize the harm these overdoses cause."
In November, the Food and Drug Administration approved a version of naloxone that is administered via nasal spray, meaning that officers do not need to inject the victim. Meanwhile, patients abusing opioid drugs are placing a heavy burden on hospitals' already overstrained budgets, FierceHealthFinance previously reported. Opiate overdoses caused more than 100,000 emergency center visits in 2010, according to one 2014 study.
To learn more:
- read the H&HN article