H.R. 5176 requires the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop protocols and a grant program for health care providers to address the needs of people who survive a drug overdose. Specifically, the protocols would address the provision of naloxone upon discharge, connection with peer-support specialists, and the referral to treatment and other services that best fit the patient’s needs. The bill authorizes $50 million in FY2019 for the grant program.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has identified individuals discharged from emergency medical care following opioid poisoning as a very vulnerable patient group in terms of opioid risks. For patients brought to the emergency room (ER) with uncontrolled blood pressure, asthma, or neglected diabetes, doctors often start treatment immediately. This is usually not the case for patients with SUD presenting with an opioid overdose. Having protocols in place that connect the patient to SUD treatment is a cost-effective way to treat patients in hospital emergency rooms.
The Centers for Disease Control released new data showing that opioid-related overdoses are up 30%. First responders and emergency room professionals have revived overdose patients using Naloxone, which immediately reverses the life-threatening respiratory depression associated with opioid overdoses. Programs that make these drugs available have been proven to result in fewer overdose deaths.
However, Naloxone does not address the underlying substance use disorder. A person who is resuscitated is at high risk for a subsequent overdose. A study in Maryland found that of people who suffered a fatal overdose, three in five had been seen in the Emergency Department for a nonfatal overdose in the previous year.