The effectiveness of a noninterruptive alert to increase prescription of take-home naloxone in emergency departments

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2023 Mar 16;30(4):683-691. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocac257.


Objective: Opioid-related overdose (OD) deaths continue to increase. Take-home naloxone (THN), after treatment for an OD in an emergency department (ED), is a recommended but under-utilized practice. To promote THN prescription, we developed a noninterruptive decision support intervention that combined a detailed OD documentation template with a reminder to use the template that is automatically inserted into a provider's note by decision rules. We studied the impact of the combined intervention on THN prescribing in a longitudinal observational study.

Methods: ED encounters involving an OD were reviewed before and after implementation of the reminder embedded in the physicians' note to use an advanced OD documentation template for changes in: (1) use of the template and (2) prescription of THN. Chi square tests and interrupted time series analyses were used to assess the impact. Usability and satisfaction were measured using the System Usability Scale (SUS) and the Net Promoter Score.

Results: In 736 OD cases defined by International Classification of Disease version 10 diagnosis codes (247 prereminder and 489 postreminder), the documentation template was used in 0.0% and 21.3%, respectively (P < .0001). The sensitivity and specificity of the reminder for OD cases were 95.9% and 99.8%, respectively. Use of the documentation template led to twice the rate of prescribing of THN (25.7% vs 50.0%, P < .001). Of 19 providers responding to the survey, 74% of SUS responses were in the good-to-excellent range and 53% of providers were Net Promoters.

Conclusions: A noninterruptive decision support intervention was associated with higher THN prescribing in a pre-post study across a multiinstitution health system.

Keywords: decision support; electronic health record; emergency department; noninterruptive; opioid overdose; take-home naloxone.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Drug Overdose*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Naloxone / therapeutic use
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / drug therapy


  • Naloxone
  • Narcotic Antagonists