Illinois hospitals send overdose antidote home with patients

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Two hospitals in a Chicago suburb are sending home an opioid-overdose antidote with patients who seek treatment for opioid overdoses or addictions.

Advocate Christ Medical Center and Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn recently started giving naloxone kits to patients who come to their emergency rooms for help regarding opioids, such as heroin or some types of prescription painkillers.

Naloxone is used to block the effects of opioids during overdoses. It reverses the depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system, which opioids cause.

Other Chicago-area hospitals are considering similar measures to curb the increasing number of deaths from opioids, the Chicago Tribune reported.

About 2,110 people died in Illinois after overdosing on opioids last year, according to data from the state’s Department of Public Health.

The Advocate hospitals’ kits are free to patients and include medication, syringes, dosing instructions and information about local resources. The kits are supplied by the Chicago Recovery Alliance, an organization that seeks to reduce drug-related harm.

In order to receive a kit, patients and family members at the hospitals must watch a video on how to dispense the opioid-reversing drug and what to do afterward.

“We’re able to provide this to them, in hand, as they walk out the door,” said Dr. Diana Bottari, a leader of the Advocate Health Care Opioid Task Force and a pediatric pain management physician. “This is an ability to give them one more day, one more chance.”

The hospital system hopes to expand the program to more of its hospitals, pending the results of the trial run over the next few months in Oak Lawn. Christ Medical and the children’s hospital have two of the Advocate system’s busiest emergency departments, according to Bottari.

The Advocate hospitals are believed to be the first in the area to send emergency room patients home with the lifesaving medication. But other hospitals are taking similar steps to prevent overdoses.

Edward-Elmhurst Health is planning to provide naloxone kits in its emergency departments in the near future, said spokesman Keith Hartenberger. University of Chicago Medicine is developing a similar program to send patients home with the antidote.