Elizabeth J. Johnson MD
Department of Emergency Medicine
Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center
At the end of April, the Centers for Disease Control released a statement pushing for increased naloxone administration by EMS personnel in an effort to reduce deaths due to opioids. Currently all 50 states allow advanced EMS staff to administer naloxone but only 12 states allow basic EMS staff to administer naloxone.
In 2013, there were 24,000 deaths due to heroin or prescription opioid overdose. Overdose deaths in rural areas account for 44 percent of the national overdose deaths. However, only 22 percent of naloxone administration was in rural areas compared to urban areas. By allowing basic EMS personnel to administer naloxone, in nasal or injectable form, these deaths could be prevented. Nasal administration is often favored as it is more easily administered and does not risk needle stick injuries, especially important when working with high risk populations.
The press release stated that “naloxone is most likely to be administered to women, people between the ages of 20 and 29, and people living in suburban areas.”
In an effort to reduce opioid overdose deaths, specifically in rural areas, the Department of Health and Human Services has provided grants that will allow for the purchase of naloxone and training of EMS staff. The CDC is also working with various government organizations from community to federal levels to monitor the opioid epidemic with the goal of tailoring programs.
For more information, go to www.cdc.gov/DrugOverdose
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