Being Smart About Opioids: ‘Warm Hand-Offs’ Part of the Solution to Fix the Crisis

Article ID: 653905

Released: 20-May-2016 6:00 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: Pennsylvania Medical Society

Newswise — Medical blogger Kristen Sandel, MD, is associate director of emergency medicine at Reading Hospital and the Young Physician Trustee for the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED). In this edition of the Quality and Value blog, and as part of PAMED’s ‘Opioids for Pain: Be Smart. Be Safe. Be Sure. initiative, Dr. Sandel writes about an extra step physicians should take when an overdose victim ends up in a hospital emergency department.

Over the past few months, stories concerning the opioid crisis have garnered front page news throughout the United States. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania has not been spared.

The number of individuals who have overdosed on opioids increased dramatically over the past few years. PAMED and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have teamed up to fight this battle together and have launched a number of initiatives, including education on the "Warm Hand-off" (also called "referral for treatment") to aid in the identification and treatment of individuals addicted to opioids.

Fortunately, largely due to the efforts of the Pennsylvania Physician General, Dr. Rachel Levine, and the Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Gary Tennis, naloxone has been available to first responders, as well as the general public, for the rapid reversal of opioid overdoses. Many of those patients who have received this life-saving intervention subsequently present to emergency departments for further evaluation and treatment of both medical and, in some cases, mental health concerns.

It is during this hospital visit that the warm handoff should be initiated..…

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To learn more about “Opioids for Pain: Be Smart. Be Safe. Be Sure.” visit


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