A medical student-led model for telephone-based opioid overdose education and naloxone distribution during the COVID-19 pandemic

Terence M. Hughes, Alexander Kalicki, Zina Huxley-Reicher, Wilma Toribio, Don L. Samuels, Jeffrey J. Weiss, Michael Herscher, Linda Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The co-occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic and opioid epidemic has increased the risk of overdose and death for patients with opioid use disorder (OUD). COVID-19 has also exacerbated already limited access to opioid overdose education and naloxone distribution (OEND). In this context, we aim to increase access to OEND for patients at risk for opioid overdose. Methods: Medical student volunteers were trained to conduct telephone-based OEND, and subsequently contacted all patients at a NYC primary care clinic for people who use drugs as well as those presenting to the hospital with OUD or a history of opioid overdose. Interested patients who completed the training received naloxone kits via mail or at hospital discharge. Results: OEND provision was converted to a remote-only model from May to June 2020. During this time, eight pre-clinical medical students called a total of 503 high-risk patients. Of these patients, 165 were reached, with 90 (55%) accepting telephone-based OEND. Comparing across populations, 51% of primary care patients versus 76% of ED/hospitalized patients accepted opioid overdose education. Eighty-four total patients received naloxone. Conclusions: We have outlined a scalable, adaptable model by which clinics and hospitals with affiliated medical schools can provide OEND by telephone. Medical student-driven, telephone-based OEND efforts can effectively reach at-risk patients and increase naloxone access.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)988-992
Number of pages5
JournalSubstance Abuse
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19 response
  • medical student education
  • naloxone
  • opioid overdose
  • patient education

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