Hospital Emergency Rooms Struggle With Overdose Spike During Pandemic

March 12, 2021

National Public Radio

"Emergency physicians have always been able to treat the overdose, but we did not have the tools to treat the addiction or the dependency," said Dr. Mark Rosenberg, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

ACEP has worked for years to help emergency departments improve addiction care, but Rosenberg says reform has come slowly.

He points to the fact that most emergency doctors still don't use buprenorphine, a drug proven to people with opioid addiction avoid relapse.

"Only one-third of patients get medications for opioid use disorder in the emergency department," Rosenberg said.

"What we know is that those patients discharged from the hospital without any further treatment who are an overdose are a hundred times more likely to die within the year."

Rosenberg and others said regulatory hurdles and stigma around people with drug use disorders have kept many emergency departments from improving their addiction care.

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