Advocate Health Care is taking a major step to help prevent deaths by opioid overdose.
The pharmacy at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. recently began providing patients presenting to the emergency departments at Advocate Christ Medical Center and Advocate Children’s Hospital – Oak Lawn with an opioid addiction, or experiencing an opioid overdose, a FREE naloxone emergency overdose response kit* before discharge. Advocate Health Care is the first system in Chicagoland to proactively provide this critical service.
Naloxone (generic Narcan) is a medication used to block the effects of opioids. It works by reversing the depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system caused by opioids. Naloxone helps in acute opioid overdose by reducing respiratory or mental depression due to opioids.
Steven Stefani understands the importance of naloxone, which had saved his twin brother Matt’s life. Unfortunately, Matt died of an opioid overdose at the age of 22.
“Naloxone gives someone who is suffering a chance to survive,” says Steven. “It could be that one time that turns things around and puts you on the road to recovery.”
According to published research, naloxone emergency overdose response kits distributed to opioid drug users have been shown to reduce rates of deaths due to overdose.
This program at Advocate is in partnership with the Chicago Recovery Alliance who is donating the naloxone discharge kits as well as providing educational materials on how to inject the reversal agent. Before receiving a kit, patients and family members will be educated via a short video that outlines preventing, identifying, and responding to an overdose; rescue breathing; and the importance of still calling emergency services.
Opioid deaths represent more than 60 percent of all drug overdose-related deaths in the United States. In 2017, opioid-related overdoses claimed the lives of 2,199 Illinoisans, nearly twice the number of homicides and more than double the number of those killed in car accidents in Chicago. Total 2017 deaths from opioid overdoses in Illinois were slightly more than double those from 2013. If a patient survives an overdose, they may endure life-long complications including permanent brain damage.
“While this program is not designed to serve as a substitute for rehabilitation for patients, it will allow a person experiencing an opioid overdose to live another day and hopefully to find the help they need,” says Dr. Diana Bottari, chair of Advocate Health Care’s opioid task force. “If we simply supply an addict or first-time user with a prescription for naloxone, should another overdose event occur, the chances he or she proactively filled that prescription are small. It’s imperative that the patient leaves our hospital with naloxone in hand.”
In addition, any registered patient may request a naloxone discharge kit.
Piloting this program in Oak Lawn, the site of Advocate’s busiest emergency room, will give Advocate a chance to evaluate the success of this initiative.
*The naloxone emergency overdose response kit includes:
3 naloxone vials (0.4mg/ml)
3 intramuscular syringes
Community Outreach Card with additional resources