ERs in Wisconsin Aim to Expand Access to Medication to Treat Overdoses

Emergency room doctors in Wisconsin want to expand medication-assisted treatment for opioid overdoses, USA Today reports.

There was a 35 percent increase in fatal opioid overdoses in Wisconsin between 2015 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state’s ER visits for overdoses were the highest in the United States, with a 109 percent increase between 2016 and 2017.

Wisconsin has a significant shortage of substance use disorder counselors, the article notes. A state law that went into effect in 2017 allows physician assistants and nurse practitioners who have completed specialized training to prescribe buprenorphine.

A study published in 2015 found patients who started on buprenorphine in the emergency room were twice as likely to stick with treatment and avoid another overdose compared with ER patients who only received a referral to a local addiction treatment clinic.

How to Use Naloxone to Reverse Opioid Overdose and Save Lives

A variety of drugs and drug combinations carry the risk of fatal overdose. Emergency protocol for any suspected overdose includes calling 911. However, in the case of opioids, which includes heroin and prescription pain medications like Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet, naloxone (also known by the brand name Narcan) can reverse an overdose, potentially saving a loved one’s life.

How to Respond to Overdose with Naloxone - Narcan

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