Delaware Public Media

Overdose system of care bill passes General Assembly

Jun 27, 2018

A bill to create a system of care for drug overdose patients in Delaware is waiting for Gov. Carney’s signature.

A system of care is meant to ensure a patient receives the same quality of care no matter where in the state they enter the system. Delaware is poised to become the first to start a system for overdoses.

Dr. Sandra Gibney is set to be on a committee the bill creates to oversee its implementation. She says Delaware is first, in part, because of its size, and may serve as a model for other states to follow.

“It is easier for us. We can serve as the model because we can get everybody giddied up and everybody on board. Because we don’t have to address 90 hospitals,” said Gibney.

Statewide standards of care could include medication-assisted treatment, access to long-term addiction counseling and peer mentors embedded at emergency departments and other care centers.

The bill also would allow the Secretary of Health and Social Services to create stabilization centers that can receive overdose patients from EMS.

But it remains to be seen how the new policies are executed and if the stabilization centers ever come to be. The bill is cost neutral, but actually opening the centers could require additional funds down the road.

Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay says the committee created will decide if the state establishes a tiered accreditation system, or if all hospitals in the state will have to meet standards of care.

“We’re not sure if we’re actually going to go with levels of care or if all hospitals are going to want to meet a certain standard and that anyone can go to any of the hospitals,” said Rattay.

Carney is expected to sign the legislation. Rattay says the committee will get started ironing out the details of its implementation soon after.

Overdoses deaths in the state of Delaware have risen for the past five years. 345 died in 2017.