Narcan Used on Overdosed Children in RI Over 50 Times in 2014
Sunday, February 01, 2015
Rhode Island Department of Health.
"I had no idea," said Rhode Island State Representative David Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston) of the number of Narcan administrations. Earlier this week, Bennett introduced legislation to require public schools with grades 6 through 12 in the state to be equipped with kits to treat opioid overdoses.
The Rhode Island Department of Health reported that from April 2, 2014 to January 18, 2015, Narcan was administered in emergency rooms 10 times for those 0-18. (April is when the Department issued emergency regulations and "deployed" the Narcan program, data was not collected prior to that date.)
For the calendar year 2014, the Department of Health reported EMS administered Narcan 42 times for those under 18 age group.
SLIDES: See Where EMS Administered Narcan to Youth in RI in 2014 BELOW
“Unfortunately, teens are not immune to the overdose epidemic, and this is a step we can take to save lives," said Bennett, who works as a psychiatric nurse. "Equipping schools with Narcan could also save others, such as parents or anyone else who happens to come on or near school property and has a problem."
Narcan is the trade name for Naloxone, which is a medication that reverses the effects of overdoses of opiates, including heroin and many commonly abused prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin
Following a year in which the Rhode Island Department of Health reported 232 apparent accidental overdose deaths in 2014 -- and as of January 22, 7 overdoses since the start of 2015 -- Bennett's proposal is drawing attention.
"I think it's a great idea. To put this in context, there's everything, and then there's an overdose, and that's a medical emergency," said Dr. Jody Rich, an infectious disease specialist at the Miriam Hospital. "That takes priority over everything. If you have the right training and tools, that will be lifesaving."
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“Schools already have a nurse on the premises, and they can already administer things like EpiPens and insulin. But if they don’t have the tools they need, they might have to just stand there and watch helplessly as a person passes away, waiting for someone else with Narcan to arrive. We know that overdoses are a real problem here, so we should do everything we can to make sure all the professionals who might need it have the proper access to Narcan so they are equipped to protect the public as best they can,” said Bennett.
"It's relatively cheap, we're talking $35 for a school," Bennett told GoLocal. "We're talking roughly $7,000 here."
"If this bill passes, and if it costs a million dollars, it's a young person's life," said Rich. "I think that's worth it."
Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello's spokesperson weighed in on the proposal.
"The Speaker has talked with Representative Bennett about this. He wants to hear the testimony that's brought forth by experts and the need for it, and and he'll keep an open mind," said Larry Berman.
Related Slideshow: Narcan Administration for Children 0-18 in RI in 2014
In 2014, EMS in 21 municipalities in Rhode Island reported administering Narcan to overdosed youth under the age of 18.
Here is the breakdown geographically in the state, according to data provided by the Rhode Island Department of Health, from the lowest number of Narcan administrations, to highest.
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