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Emergency Medical Minute


May 24, 2021

Contributor: Don Stader, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • Patients are more likely to survive an opioid overdose if they have naloxone
  • 10% risk of death in the year following an opioid overdose of patients seen in the ED
  • Those who receive naloxone:
    • Have better survival rates
    • Are more likely to enter recovery
    • Are more likely to use the naloxone on another person who has overdosed
  • Better to give the patient naloxone at discharge from the ED as rates of filling prescriptions are low
  • Any patient who uses illicit drugs, chronic opioid medications, or opioids with benzodiazepines are good candidates for naloxone at discharge
  • Remember to instruct the patient and those who live with them on how to use it


Gunn AH, Smothers ZPW, Schramm-Sapyta N, Freiermuth CE, MacEachern M, Muzyk AJ. The Emergency Department as an Opportunity for Naloxone Distribution. West J Emerg Med. 2018;19(6):1036-1042. doi:10.5811/westjem.2018.8.38829

Olfson M, Wall M, Wang S, Crystal S, Blanco C. Risks of fatal opioid overdose during the first year following nonfatal overdose. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2018;190:112-119. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.06.004

Olfson M, Crystal S, Wall M, Wang S, Liu SM, Blanco C. Causes of Death After Nonfatal Opioid Overdose [published correction appears in JAMA Psychiatry. 2018 Aug 1;75(8):867]. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018;75(8):820-827. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.1471

Summarized by John Spartz, MS3 | Edited by Erik Verzemnieks, MD


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