Development of a take-home naloxone program at an urban academic emergency department

Vidya Eswaran, Katherine C. Allen, Daniel S. Cruz, Patrick McCafferty Lank, Danielle M. McCarthy, Howard S. Kim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe the development of an ED-based take-home naloxone (THN) program in which naloxone kits are dispensed directly to patients during ED discharge. Practice description: Our THN program was carried out at an urban academic hospital in downtown Chicago, IL. The THN kits consisted of 3 vials of 0.4-mg naloxone and 3 sterile syringes and needles for intramuscular delivery. Any member of the ED team (e.g., physician, pharmacist, or nurse) could recommend naloxone dispensing for a patient; however only the treating ED physician served as the prescriber for record. The ED pharmacist provided bedside education on recognizing opioid overdose and administering naloxone. The naloxone kit was dispensed to the patient at no cost. Practice innovation: This ED pharmacist-led naloxone dispensing model bypasses barriers to naloxone filling and ensures that patients walk out of the emergency department with naloxone in hand. Evaluation methods: We report key metrics from the first 16 months of program implementation, including the number of ED visits for opioid overdose and THN kits dispensed. We further describe the key facilitators and barriers to program development. Results: Over 16 months, our emergency department had 669 unique visits for opioid overdose, and we dispensed 168 THN kits (10.5 per month). We are aware of at least 3 cases in which our THN kits were used to reverse opioid overdose. We faced key informational barriers to program development, such as a lack of knowledge regarding the allowability of ED medication dispensing, as well as financial barriers, such as the need to obtain a supply of naloxone. We also recognized the key facilitators of success, such as early engagement with hospital leadership. Conclusion: Implementing a successful THN program is possible in the ED setting, and individual hospital emergency departments seeking to build their own program may benefit from our report.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e324-e331
JournalJournal of the American Pharmacists Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmacology (nursing)
  • Pharmacology


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