WASHINGTON, D.C.—The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) today commended Congress for passage of opioid legislation that is critical to improving emergency overdose prevention and care coordination, as well as optimize pain management in emergency departments. The legislation is expected to be sent directly to the President for signature, which he has agreed to do. ACEP’s president, Vidor E. Friedman, MD, FACEP, released the following statement:
“I applaud members of Congress for their leadership in the bipartisan development and passage of this legislative package to address a true public health emergency. Included in the package are the “Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) in the Emergency Department Act” and the “Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Rooms (POWER) Act.” ACEP worked closely with the bill sponsors to develop these important pieces of legislation to ensure that emergency physicians are equipped with the tools they need to fight the opioid epidemic from both a prevention and treatment standpoint, and provide patients with the care they need.
“On behalf of the nation’s emergency physicians, I especially applaud the leadership of Representatives Doyle, McKinley, and Pascrell, and Senators Bennet, Booker, Cassidy, Gardner, and Murphy in developing and securing passage of these critical bills in the broader opioid package.
“Despite nationwide attention, the devastating and far-reaching impacts of the opioid epidemic persist. More than 46 people die each day just from prescription opioid overdose, and emergency departments are on the front lines of this crisis. According to the CDC, emergency visits due to overdoses increased by 30 percent between July of 2016 and September of 2017.”
The Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) in the Emergency Department Act (H.R. 5197/S. 2516) creates a demonstration program to implement non-opioid evidence-based pain management protocols, such as nitrous oxide, trigger point injections, nerve blocks, and other pain management options in hospitals across the country, based on the successful and proven ALTO program developed in New Jersey and recently tested in Colorado.
The Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Rooms (POWER) Act (H.R. 5176/S. 2610) would provide grants to establish policies and procedures for initiating Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in the emergency department. It also would provide education and additional resources to help implementation of MAT in the emergency department, as well as develop best practices to provide a “warm handoff” to appropriate community resources and providers to keep patients engaged in treatment. MAT is a proven medical treatment that can relieve withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings of opioid use disorder.