New law allowing nurses and licensed practical nurses to distribute opioid reversal medication in EDs – effective March 11, 2022

March 31, 2022

***New Law: Hospital Action Required***

To: Chief Nursing Officers, Chief Medical Officers, Emergency Department Directors
Please forward to Emergency Department Directors
Staff Contact: Cara Helmer, JD, RN, Policy Director, Legal Affairs , 206-577-1827Ryan Robertson, Senior Director of Behavioral Health, 206-216-2536
Subject: New law allowing nurses and licensed practical nurses to distribute opioid reversal medication in EDs – effective March 11, 2022



This bulletin provides hospitals information about HB 1761, a new law that revises RCW 70.41.480, which requires Emergency Departments (EDs) to distribute opioid reversal medication to patients at risk of an opioid overdose.


Effective March 11, 2022, HB 1761 allows nurses to distribute lifesaving opioid reversal medication in EDs; broadening the types of providers who can distribute and dispense the medication. Last year, the Legislature enacted 2SHB 5195 requiring hospitals to provide opioid reversal medication to certain patients at risk of an overdose. Unfortunately, the law was too narrow in application and required a prescriber to distribute the medication to patients in the ED setting, which could create patient backlogs.


  1. Review your requirements and policies. The new law revision may affect policy in facility procedures, they may need to be revised.
  2. Ensure your hospital is following the law and providing this to patients according to RCW 70.41.480.


WSHA successfully advocated for HB 1761 after members of Washington State Hospital Association brought the issue of nurses not being able to distribute opioid reversal medications to our attention.  As we continue to hear of challenges regarding opioid reversal medications and payment, WSHA is continuing to raise issues and seek resolution. Washington State Hospital Association actively works with our members to address any issues with this important requirement.

Next Steps

See information regarding 2SHB 5195. Distributing opioid overdose reversal medication in EDs and behavioral health settings that was effective starting January 1, 2022. Your policies may need revisions as to who may dispense or distribute opioid overdose reversal medications.

WSHA’s 2022 New Law Implementation Guide
Please visit WSHA’s new law implementation guide online. The Government Affairs team is hard at work preparing resources and information on the high priority bills that passed in 2022 to help members implement these new laws, as well as links to resources such as this bulletin. In addition, you will find the Government Affairs team’s schedule for release of upcoming resources on other laws and additional resources for implementation.

Background and References


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