Study objectives: Intranasal delivery of naloxone to reverse the effects of opioid overdose by Advanced Life Support (ALS) providers has been studied in several prehospital settings. In 2006, in response to the increase in opioid-related overdoses, a special waiver from the state allowed administration of intranasal naloxone by Basic Life Support (BLS) providers in our city. This study aimed to determine: 1) if patients who received a 2-mg dose of nasal naloxone administered by BLS required repeat dosing while in the emergency department (ED), and 2) the disposition of these patients.
Methods: This was a retrospective review of patients transported by an inner-city municipal ambulance service to one of three academic medical centers. We included patients aged 18 and older that were transported by ambulance between 1/1/2006 and 12/12/2012 and who received intranasal naloxone by BLS providers as per a state approved protocol. Site investigators matched EMS run data to patients from each hospital's EMR and performed a chart review to confirm that the patient was correctly identified and to record the outcomes of interest. Descriptive statistics were then generated.
Results: A total of 793 patients received nasal naloxone by BLS and were transported to three hospitals. ALS intervened and transported 116 (14.6%) patients, and 11 (1.4%) were intubated in the field. There were 724 (91.3%) patients successfully matched to an ED chart. Hospital A received 336 (46.4%) patients, Hospital B received 210 (29.0%) patients, and Hospital C received 178 (24.6%) patients. Mean age was 36.2 (SD 10.5) years and 522 (72.1%) were male; 702 (97.1%) were reported to have abused heroin while 21 (2.9%) used other opioids. Nasal naloxone had an effect per the prehospital record in 689 (95.2%) patients. An additional naloxone dose was given in the ED to 64 (8.8%) patients. ED dispositions were: 507 (70.0%) discharged, 105 (14.5%) admitted, and 112 (15.5%) other (e.g., left against medical advice, left without being seen, or transferred).
Conclusions: Only a small percentage of patients receiving prehospital administration of nasal naloxone by BLS providers required additional doses of naloxone in the ED and the majority of patients were discharged.
Keywords: basic life support; naloxone; opioid overdose.