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August 31, 2018

Opioid overdose pilot program designed to save lives

Aug. 31, International Overdose Awareness Day, is an opportunity to remember those who have been affected by overdoses as well as offer education about how to prevent or reverse overdoses. Approximately 700 people die from overdoses in Washington state each year. This tragic loss of life impacts all aspects of our community, and it is something we can stop.

To stop overdoses, the WSMA, the Washington State Department of Health and the Washington State Hospital Association have partnered with Collective Medical (developers of the Emergency Department Information Exchange, or EDIE) to launch an overdose notification program in Clallam and Jefferson counties. This pilot program will notify a primary care physician or other prescribing provider when their patient is brought to a hospital emergency department and confirmed to have experienced an overdose event.

"More than 90 percent of patients who experience an overdose event go on to have a prescription for the same drug that almost killed them. This is because providers are not aware their patient almost died," says Olympic Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Scott Kennedy, MD. "The goal of this pilot is to stop this cycle and save lives."

Physicians and providers need timely and meaningful information to support patient care. This notification program uses the EDIE platform to share critical information with providers, nearly in real time. Elya Prystowsky, executive director of Olympic Community of Health said, "We are excited to pilot this amazing notification program in the peninsula as it will help providers quickly coordinate care, get patients access to treatment services and work to reduce overall opioid prescriptions."

The pilot will last for three months and then spread to the rest of the state at no cost to hospitals, physicians or providers.

The WSMA worked with WSHA, DOH and Collective Medical Technology to advance legislation (HB 1427) in 2017 to establish this program. We have been working collaboratively over the past year to build the infrastructure, and we are excited to finally pilot the program and expand it in the coming months.

For a closer look at the pilot overdose notification program, be sure to read the Legal Matters column in the September/October issue of WSMA Reports, now in the mail to WSMA members (click here for a pdf of the issue). Also in that issue, you'll find up-to-date coverage of other WSMA and state efforts to find clinically effective, long-term solutions to the opioid crisis.

For more Washington state-specific information and resources on stopping overdoses, please visit

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