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J Emerg Med. 2019 Apr 5. pii: S0736-4679(19)30121-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2019.02.015. [Epub ahead of print]

Retrospective Review of Need for Delayed Naloxone or Oxygen in Emergency Department Patients Receiving Naloxone for Heroin Reversal.

Author information

1
Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.
2
Department of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.
3
Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Emergency departments (EDs) are experiencing an increasing number of heroin overdose visits. Currently, there is no generally agreed upon ED observation period for heroin overdose patients who receive naloxone.

OBJECTIVES:

We aimed to determine the safety of a 2-h observation period for heroin overdose patients who receive naloxone.

METHODS:

We performed a chart review of all patients who presented with any opioid-related complaint between 2009 and 2014 to our urban academic trauma center. Subset analysis of patients with isolated heroin overdose who received naloxone was performed, with the intent of excluding patients intoxicated with long-acting/enteral opioids. The primary outcome was the number of patients who required delayed intervention-specifically, additional naloxone or supplemental oxygen.

RESULTS:

Between 2009 and 2014, we recorded 806 visits to our ED for heroin use after receiving naloxone. Twenty-nine patients (3.6%) received a repeat dose of naloxone, and 17 patients (2%) received oxygen ≥2 h after initial naloxone administration. Our 2-h intervention rate was 4.6% (N = 37). This decreased to 1.9% (N = 15) after 3 h and 0.9% (N = 7) after 4 h. Patients with polysubstance use were more likely to receive repeat naloxone (p < 0.01), but not oxygen (p = 0.10). Preexisting cardiopulmonary conditions did not correlate with a need for supplemental oxygen (p = 0.24) or repeat naloxone (p = 0.30).

CONCLUSIONS:

A 2-h ED observation period for heroin overdose patients reversed with naloxone resulted in a delayed intervention rate of 5%. Clinicians may consider a 3-h observation period, with extra scrutiny in polysubstance abuse.

KEYWORDS:

emergency department; heroin; naloxone; observation period; overdose

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