Emergency Department Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder


From 2016 to 2017, visits to the Emergency Department (ED) for opioid overdose increased by nearly 30% in the United States. More than 1 in 20 patients treated for an opioid overdose will die a year after ED treatment. Furthermore, prior studies reveal significant gaps in access to outpatient opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment. To address these disparities, a recent study featuring PISC Past Trainee Edouard Coupet, MD, recommends utilizing the ED in outpatient treatments after an opioid overdose. ED Physicians can prescribe outpatient Buprenorphine, which has been proven to reduce illicit opioid use among patients. Additionally, the ED can provide patients with harm reduction education and take-home naloxone. Other first-line treatments provided by the ED include NSAIDS, regional nerve blocks, low-dose ketamine, and opioid agonists. Utilizing the Emergency Department as an OUD outpatient resource could have a lasting impact on opioid overdose patients.


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