Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg is among the first pharmacies in the Defense Health Agency to carry an opiate overdose antidote, officials said.
Sold under the brand Narcan, naloxone helps restore breathing to reduce the effects of opiates.
Every patient who gets an opioid prescription dispensed at any of the Womack Army Medical Center pharmacies is screened for their risk of opioid-induced respiratory depression, said Maj. Joseph Taylor, assistant chief Womack Army Medical Center department of pharmacy.
An automated tool reviews patients’ electronic medical records to also determine whether patients are at a higher risk of opiate harm based on diagnoses and health conditions, other prescriptions used and emergency room visits or hospitalizations, Taylor said.
“We then take the score from the automated tool, and manually add the risk factors from the current opioid(s) being prescribed, and if the patient is determined to be at risk, we dispense naloxone,” Taylor said.
There is no cost to the patients, he said.
A standing order through the Defense Health Agency allows the naloxone to be dispensed to eligible beneficiaries, without having to wait on a prescription order from the patient’s provider.
A directive from the Defense Health Agency last week states that education is a requirement for beneficiaries to receive naloxone.
That education includes recognizing signs of opioid overdose, how to administer naloxone and instruction to call emergency medical services after it is administered.
Womack has taken the lead on this patient safety initiative, as similar efforts to administer Narcan at other military treatment facilities is in the process.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, along with many other organizations, have called for expanded patient access to naloxone in efforts to save lives,” said Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director of the Defense Health agency, in this week’s directive.
The directive cites data from the Centers for Disease Control and prevention that states that more than 183,000 people have died from overdoses related to prescription opioids, between 1999 to 2015.
Since implementing these processes around the beginning of this year, Womack has identified and dispensed hundreds of naloxone nasal sprays to patients who would not have been identified before, Taylor said.
In addition to providing naloxone based on calculated risk, it is provided to any Tricare-eligible beneficiary who simply asks for it — regardless of prescription opioid history, Taylor said.
© 2019 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)
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