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Westmoreland EMS To Leave Behind Naloxone With Overdose Patients Who Refuse Hospital Care

Emergency medical workers in Westmoreland County will soon begin leaving naloxone and addiction treatment information with overdose survivors who refuse to go to the hospital.

"The effects of naloxone actually only last 30 to 90 minutes max," said Elizabeth Comer, director of clinical and case management services for the Westmoreland Drug and Alcohol Commission. "Depending what that person actually ingested, what type of opioid, they could actually go back into an overdose." 

Comer said people refuse hospital treatment for a number of reasons.

“There’s a lot going on there at that moment,” said Comer. “They’ve just had a medical emergency.  You know, they’ve been brought back with Narcan. They’re uncomfortable. They’re experiencing the worst flu ever. So not everyone is always willing to go to the hospital for that follow up treatment.”

EMS workers will also ask patients to sign a release that allows the county to contact them to offer help finding treatment services. 

This program is modeled on one from Allegheny County and is funded through a grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

In 2017 there were more than 190 overdose deaths in Westmoreland County. The majority were opioid related.

Sarah Boden covers health and science for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio where she covered a range of issues, including the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.