Metro Health – University of Michigan Health is now giving away free of charge the life-saving medication, Narcan, to patients upon discharge who experience an accidental or intentional opioid overdose. These kits are funded through a generous grant from the Metro Health Hospital Foundation.
Opioids, like heroin and common prescription pain medications, have been associated with overdoses at epidemic levels nationally. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, more than 33,000 people died because of opioids in 2015. The Center also reports that nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid. In 2015, Metro Health’s emergency department treated 285 drug overdoses with 190 of those being actual or potentially opioid related.
“Opioid use is on the rise, and so are overdoses,” said Dr. Marc Afman. “Overdoses can be accidental or intentional. We also know that if a person has one overdose, they are far more likely to have a second, and that one could be fatal. An overdose can happen to anyone. By distributing these kits, we are helping to save lives by providing education, community resources and Narcan; an antidote (reversal) for opioids.”
Metro Health – University of Michigan Health is distributing Narcan in nasal spray form. Narcan is a prescription medication used to reverse the dangerous life-threatening effects of opioids. An overdose is a medical emergency. Narcan does not take the place of emergency medical care, and 911 should be called when it is used.
The hospital’s goals for distributing these kits include:
- eliminating the need for the patient to travel to a pharmacy to fill a prescription for Narcan;
- removing any financial barriers that would prohibit a patient from obtaining a kit at a pharmacy;
- educating the patient and caregivers regarding appropriate use; and
- reducing the amount of deaths in the community related to opiate overdoses.
“At Metro, we want to be clear about one thing: we do not encourage the improper use of opioid drugs; rather, we recognize that Narcan used immediately by family and friends could save the life of someone they hold dear,” said Pete Haverkamp RPh. “We recognize that not all overdose victims are using illegal drugs, and whatever the cause of the overdose, we want to provide life-saving tools to those who may need it the most.”
“Our mission at Metro Health – University of Michigan Health is to improve the health and well being of our communities,” said President and CEO Michael Faas. “The focus of this program is to be proactive and do what we can to curb the spread of this health epidemic. That’s why we are so pleased to provide these kits—free—to patients upon discharge who have overdosed on an opioid.”
Each Narcan kit includes two doses of the spray. Instructions are printed in English, Bosnian and Spanish. Also included in the kit are instructions indicating how to recognize an overdose, initiating emergency response by calling 911, and how to administer the life-saving medication, Narcan. Additional information includes a list of community resources where an individual, or family member, can find local help, including support groups, shelter, food, addiction services, crisis lines and counseling.