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First State working towards standardized care for drug overdoses

Delaware Public Media

Hospitals in the First State are working together to develop a standard system of care for people who’ve suffered drug overdoses.

Delaware hospitals have already coordinated their care systems for trauma, pediatrics and stroke. Now they’re working to do the same for overdoses, by using state data and national research to determine the best ways to ensure people who overdose have immediate access to Naloxone, as well as advanced addiction treatment going forward.

Dr. Sandy Gibney is an ER Physician at St. Francis Hospital. She says there are many variables to consider. For example: how many substances are involved, how long the patient has been addicted and whether or not the patient has a behavioral health diagnosis.

“There will be different systems of care available for folks that have more complex and more longstanding and more deeply rooted problems which will probably require an inpatient stay,” said Gibney.

Medical officials are also developing an app to connect citizen bystanders with medical providers via Skype in the event of an overdose. There are plans to implement a Skype system for psychiatric telemedicine as well.

Many hospitals are already embedding care coordinators in the Emergency Department to make sure overdose victims are offered advanced addiction treatment before they leave.

“In the past, an overdose victim would come in, they would be revived, hopefully, and we didn’t really have a whole lot to offer them. Most of the time they were revived and they left only to repeat the cycle,” said Gibney, adding that she’s encouraged by recent efforts and has never seen so many resources put towards a health crisis.

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