Naloxone Use in Out-of-Hospital Settings

Source: EMR-ISAC

The use of opioids such as heroin has been trending upwards since about 2007. The overall rise in demand for heroin and its relative low cost have led to an inevitable increase in overdoses and overdose-related deaths. Some of these can be attributed to fentanyl, a potent painkiller, which can be added to heroin to create a stronger high.

Many first responders now carry naloxone, a medication that reverses an opioid overdose. The drug has reportedly saved thousands of lives since its inception. Due to the spike in overdoses in recent years, law enforcement agencies are starting to arm their officers with naloxone as well. Officers across the country are trained in the administration of naloxone to people who have overdosed.

According to National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO), 19 states currently have Good Samaritan laws granting some level of immunity to people who call 9-1-1 for assistance due to either their own overdose or that of another. In addition, 25 states have laws or programs to allow people, either professional or not, to administer medication to reverse potential opiate-related overdoses.

NASEMSO has released The Use of Naloxone in Out-of-Hospital Settings, an issue brief detailing naloxone’s use as substance abuse increases in the United States. NASEMSO also makes some policy recommendations such as mandatory education for the use of naloxone by non-medical personnel with support from proper medical oversight to ensure quality standards.