WSHA-endorsed ScalaNW launches to support emergency departments in caring for patients with opioid use disorder

June 4, 2024

The Washington State Healthcare Authority (HCA) on June 3 launched ScalaNW: a bridge program that supports hospital emergency departments in caring for patients suffering from opioid use disorder. The program provides clinical protocols, training, technical assistance and 24/7 clinical consultations through the expanded UW Psychiatry Consult Line to ensure caregivers have everything they need to prescribe medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD).

A collaborative group of stakeholders – including WSHA member hospitals – provided input to develop the program. WSHA has endorsed ScalaNW, as has the Washington State Medical Association, the Washington State Pharmacy Association, the Washington chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and the Washington Society of Addiction Medicine. The clinical protocols, tools and requests for technical assistance are publicly available on the ScalaNW website. Email ScalaNW to learn more.

Addressing opioid-related harm is a top priority for WSHA, our board and hospitals across the state. Hospital emergency departments serve as an indispensable community health care hub where individuals at risk of opioid-related harm regularly seek care. MOUD saves lives, and prescribing this medication in the emergency department is considered best practice by many organizations, including the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In 2022, more than 24,000 emergency department visits in Washington were for non-fatal overdoses. When MOUD is initiated in the emergency department, research shows a 60% reduction in all-cause mortality following a non-fatal overdose. The biggest barriers to MOUD access are education and resources for teams in the ED, and support in getting individuals connected with ongoing care. This tool is intended to address these barriers.

WSHA is pleased ScalaNW is an available resource to Washington hospitals, and we encourage you to learn more about how these resources can best support your emergency department teams.


Brittany Weiner
WSHA Director, Safety and Quality


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