In the past 20 years, opioid overdose has mushroomed from an anomaly into an epidemic.
During that span, opioid-related deaths in Kent County soared fourfold—from fewer than 20 a year to more than 80.
The strongest predictor of opioid overdose is clear: a previous history of overdose. That being the case, the ER will soon begin giving Narcan kits to overdose patients at no cost before discharge, becoming the first hospital in the region to do so. Narcan is the only FDA-approved nasal form of naloxone, which counteracts the life-threatening effects of opioid overdose.
Called O-180—O is the street name for opiates and 180 signifies reversal—the program is funded by a $40,000 grant from the Metro Health Hospital Foundation.
With Narcan nasal spray on hand, discharged patients who experience a subsequent overdose at home can be treated immediately before placing a call to 911. The Narcan kits will contain two doses of naloxone, along with information about community resources available to overdose patients and their families.
“Our goal is to reduce deaths in the community related to opioid overdoses, while also removing some of the stigma of opioid addiction,” says Crystal Gaylord, a quality and safety nurse specialist in the ER.