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An Assessment of the EMS Drug Overdose to Death Pathway from 2011 to 2017


Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with an estimated 60,000 deaths in 2016. Nationally, EMS overdose responses with naloxone administration have nearly doubled from 2012 to 2016 from 573.6 to 1004.4 per 100,000 EMS events. Resuscitation using the opioid antagonist, naloxone is recommended in cases of suspected opioid ODs, and has been increasingly used by EMS agencies, law enforcement, healthcare providers, and Good Samaritans. While naloxone can save lives, it is not clear how often its use is appropriate; delivering the right care to the right patient at the right time. It has been suggested that community paramedic programs teamed with recovery services may help link OD patients to recovery and rehabilitation services and establish mechanisms for follow-up care. Prior to implementing community EMS programs, it is important to understand the EMS utilization patterns of the OD population. I-EMS interactions may present an opportunity for behavioral intervention and linkage to services to prevent future OD and death in the opioid-using population. Accurately documenting substances involved in drug overdose deaths has been of increasing interest to Marion County and Indiana with a recent law requiring toxicology testing 5,6. This project linked individual-level data across public health information systems to assess the appropriateness of naloxone administration, the frequency of I-EMS service utilization until final death outcome among the I-EMS OD deceased cohort, and underlying causes of death among the cohort.

Objective: To characterize the appropriateness of naloxone administration, causes of death, and history of Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services (I-EMS) service utilization among the drug overdose population in Marion County, Indiana between 2011 to 2017.

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