August 31, International Overdose Awareness Day, is an opportunity to remember those who have been affected by overdoses as well as offer education about how to prevent or reverse overdoses. Approximately 700 people die from overdoses in Washington State each year. This tragic loss of life impacts all aspects of our community, and it is something we can stop.
To stop overdoses, Clallam and Jefferson counties are launching an overdose event notification program. This pilot program will notify a patient’s primary care provider or any other prescribing caregiver if they are brought to a hospital emergency department and confirmed to have experienced an overdose event.
“More than 90 percent of patients who experience an overdose event go on to have a prescription for the same drug that almost killed them. This is because providers are not aware their patient almost died,” says Olympic Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Scott Kennedy. “The goal of this pilot is to stop this cycle and save lives.”
Providers need timely and meaningful information to support patient care. This notification program uses the existing Emergency Department Information Exchange (EDIE) platform to share critical information with providers, nearly in real time. Elya Prystowsky, Executive Director Olympic Community of Health said, “we are excited to pilot this amazing notification program in the peninsula, as it will help providers quickly coordinate care, get patients access to treatment services and work to reduce overall opioid prescriptions.”
The pilot will go for three months and then spread to the rest of the state at no cost to hospitals or providers.
The Washington State Medical Association, Collective Medical Technology and WSHA advanced legislation (HB 1427) in 2017 to establish this program. Along with Washington State Department of Health, we have been working collaboratively over the past year to build the infrastructure, and we are excited to finally pilot the program and expand it in the coming months.
This is one of many public and private efforts aimed at addressing the opioid crisis. For more information and resources on stopping overdoses, please visit Stopoverdose.org.
WSHA Policy Director, Patient Safety
WSHA Director, Quality and Performance Improvement, Patient Safety