Paramedics become first in Canada able to give antipsychotic meds to meth users

Manitoba officials announced that paramedics will be able to administer olanzapine to agitated methamphetamine users


By EMS1 Staff

MANITOBA, Canada — Paramedics in Manitoba are now the first in Canada that are allowed to administer an antipsychotic medication to methamphetamine users.

Manitoba officials announced a new protocol that permits paramedics to give olanzapine to agitated patients on meth if they are at risk of experiencing psychosis, CTV News reported.

Paramedics in Manitoba are now the first in Canada that are allowed to administer olanzapine to methamphetamine users. (Photo/Dr. Ginette Poulin)
Paramedics in Manitoba are now the first in Canada that are allowed to administer olanzapine to methamphetamine users. (Photo/Dr. Ginette Poulin)

“Paramedics have seen first-hand how a person’s behavior can quickly change when they’re using meth,” Cameron Friesen, minister of health, senior and active living, said. “By granting paramedics the ability to administer olanzapine, we are giving them another tool to protect their patients, themselves and others.”

Olanzapine is used to lessen or prevent the symptoms of psychosis. Before administering to consenting patients, paramedics will first have to consult a supervisor.

“We are pleased to see that paramedics across the province will be able to administer olanzapine in cases of known or suspected methamphetamine use,” Paramedic Association of Manitoba chairman Brent Bekiaris said. “These patients can quickly develop paranoia and exhibit violent behaviour even while being assessed, so additional treatment options are needed.”

Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union President Michelle Gawronsky said the medication is a “good tool,” but that there are limitations.

“This is a good tool to help deal with those who choose to accept taking this drug, but of course it cannot help in cases where patients are already experiencing psychosis and refuse to take it. That’s often the situation paramedics find themselves in during the course of these encounters: these patients are irrational and are often violent,” she said.

 

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  2. Drugs
  3. Safety

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