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harm reduction, naloxone, opioid analgesics, patient discharge, prescriptions



  1. Train, Meghan K. DO
  2. Patel, Nilbhi MD
  3. Thapa, Kriti MD, MPH
  4. Pasho, Marissa NP
  5. Acquisto, Nicole M. PharmD


Purpose: The aim of this quality improvement (QI) project was to increase the coprescription of naloxone kits at patient discharge as a harm reduction strategy to combat the opioid epidemic. An interdisciplinary team identified hospitalized medical patients who were at high risk for an opioid overdose or opioid-related adverse event.


Methods: Led by a physician champion, an interdisciplinary QI team composed of physicians (MDs and doctors of osteopathic medicine), advanced practice providers (NPs and physician assistants), RNs, care coordinators, social workers, and pharmacists developed and implemented a naloxone distribution program on one medical unit at an academic tertiary care center. The team developed and implemented criteria to identify high-risk patients, workflow for patient screening, staff and patient education programs, and processes for naloxone kit delivery to the patient's bedside. Data on naloxone kit distribution from the seven months prior to implementation (March 2018 to September 2018) and the seven months after implementation (October 2018 to April 2019) were evaluated and are reported descriptively.


Results: Two patients preimplementation and 64 patients postimplementation received a naloxone kit at discharge. In the postimplementation group, common reasons for identifying a patient as at high risk for an overdose or adverse event were a prescription for a pain medication at a daily dosage greater than or equal to 50 morphine milligram equivalents (50% of patients), concomitant opioid and benzodiazepine use (19%), history of substance use disorder (11%), and medication-assisted treatment (9%). Most patients in the postimplementation group (86%) received a naloxone kit at a personal cost of $1 or less.


Conclusion: This unit-based pilot project was successful in identifying patients at high risk for an opioid overdose or opioid-related adverse event and in providing naloxone kits and education at hospital discharge.