University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Naloxone Prescribing in an Academic Emergency Department: Provider Practices and Attitudes

Jennifer Hernandez-Meier, PhD, MSW; Darren Li, BS; Amy Zosel, MD, MS

WMJ. 2023;122(1):20-25.

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Introduction: Naloxone reverses opioid overdose, but it is not universally prescribed. With increases in opioid-related emergency department visits, emergency medicine providers are in a unique position to identify and treat opioid-related injury, but little is known about their attitudes and practices around naloxone prescribing. We hypothesized that emergency medicine providers would identify multifactorial barriers to naloxone prescribing and report varying levels of naloxone-prescribing behaviors.

Methods: A survey designed to assess attitudes and behaviors regarding naloxone prescribing practices was emailed to all prescribing providers at an urban academic emergency department. Descriptive and summary statistics were performed.

Results: The response rate was 29% (36/124). Nearly all respondents (94%) expressed openness to prescribing naloxone from the emergency department, but only 58% had actually done so. Most (92%) believed that patients would benefit from greater access to naloxone, however 31% also believed that opioid use would increase as access to naloxone increases. Time was the most frequently identified barrier (39%) to prescribing, followed by a perceived inability to properly educate patients on naloxone use (25%).

Conclusions: In this study of emergency medicine providers, the majority of respondents were amendable to prescribing naloxone, yet almost half had not done so and some believed that doing so would increase opioid use. Barriers included time constraints and perceived self-reported knowledge deficits regarding naloxone education. More information is needed to gauge the impact of individual barriers to prescribing naloxone, but these findings may provide information that can be incorporated in provider education and potential clinical pathways designed to increase naloxone prescribing.

Author Affiliations: Department of Emergency Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Hernandez-Meier, Zosel); School of Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wis (Li).
Corresponding Author: Jennifer Hernandez-Meier, PhD, MSW, Department of Emergency Medicine, 8701 Watertown Plank Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226; phone 414.955.7655; email; ORCID ID 0000-0003-1709-3576
Funding/Support: None declared.
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
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