Bystander Rescue Training Cuts Opioid Overdose Deaths

(HealthDay News) – State-supported opioid overdose education and nasal naloxone distribution (OEND) programs are associated with a reduction in the adjusted rate ratio for annual deaths related to opioid overdose, according to a study published online Jan. 31 in BMJ.

Alexander Y. Walley, MD, from the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues examined the impact of state-supported OEND programs on the rates of opioid-linked overdose mortality and acute care utilization in 19 Massachusetts communities from 2002–2009. OEND programs equipped those at risk of overdose and bystanders (social service agency staff, family, and friends of opioid users) with nasal naloxone rescue kits and trained them to prevent, recognize, and respond to an overdose. Community-year strata with high and low rates of OEND implementation were compared to those with no implementation.

The researchers found that 2,912 potential bystanders were trained in these communities and they performed 327 rescues. Compared with communities with no implementation, community-year strata with 1–100 enrollments or >100 enrollments per 100,000 population had significantly reduced adjusted rate ratios for annual deaths related to opioid overdose (0.73 and 0.54, respectively). There were no significant differences in the rates of acute care hospital utilization.

“This study provides strong support for the public health agency policy and community-based organization practice to implement and expand OEND programs as a key way to address the opioid overdose epidemic,” the authors write.

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