Officials: More OD victims refusing ambulance transport after naloxone revival

Philadelphia Fire Department EMS Deputy Commissioner Jeremiah Laster said the city considered making a trip to the hospital mandatory

By EMS1 Staff

PHILADELPHIA — More overdose victims are refusing ambulance transports after they have been administered naloxone, according to officials.

WHYY reported that 16 percent of Philadelphia overdose patients refuse a ride, according to recent data.

Philadelphia Fire Department EMS Deputy Commissioner Jeremiah Laster said paramedics attempt to get every overdose patient to the hospital, as they need monitoring to make sure the overdose symptoms do not return after the medication wears off.

“It’s a near-death experience, and you really want to get these people the help they need,” Laster said. “It’s a difficult thing, but you can’t force the care on people.”

Laster said the transport are also an opportunity to give the patients access to treatment. Philadelphia hospitals are working with the state to implement a “warm-handoff” program that provides emergency rooms with detox beds and medication to help patients recover, as well as connecting the patient with someone offering treatment rather than giving them written information.

The city’s opioid task force considered making ambulance transports mandatory for overdose patients, but the controversial idea did not make the list of recommendations, according to Laster.

Laster attributes the growing number of refusals to the “growing awareness” of the naloxone withdrawal symptoms and how long they could be in the ER.

The fire department is working with a nonprofit organization called Prevention Point to have outreach workers, including people who recovered from addiction, visit patients who decline an ambulance transport.

“When 911 gets there, if John Doe doesn’t want to go to the hospital, perhaps somebody else can walk with him and talk with him as he decides what he’s going to do next,” Laster said.

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