Emergency departments are among the frontline providers for assessment and treatment of substance use, opioid use and non-fatal drug overdose. According to the Avoid Opioid web site, opioid deaths in South Dakota have steadily increased since 2012 and unintended overdose is a risk for anyone who takes prescription opioids.

The South Dakota Department of Health completed a statewide assessment of emergency departments in 2020 to determine existing practices and identify key recommendations to advance overdose prevention and reduction efforts. Using the assessment as a starting point, an emergency department toolkit will be developed to provide evidence-based information on best practices and model policies for emergency departments to consider, adapt and use to support overdose prevention and treatment and reduce drug-related harm.

Avoid Opioid Overview“We have been bringing together subject matter experts to provide guidance in the development of emergency department model policies, resources and tools,” shared Laura Streich, MPA, opioid program director for the Department of Health. “Evaluators supporting the project are gathering research literature and best practices. In addition, healthcare organizations from across the state are engaging in the effort by participating in task groups.” The goal of the project is to support statewide efforts and improve linkages to care to help prevent and treat opioid use disorder and substance use disorder, while also reducing overdose rates.

“Our focus areas include screening, intervention, treatment, use of the prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP), naloxone distribution, and patient/provider education,” Streich further explained. “We aim to have a draft of the toolkit ready to pilot with rural and urban emergency departments by spring/summer 2021.”

The effectiveness of the toolkit will be evaluated based on outcomes and impacts, such as adoption of toolkit policies, use of medication assisted treatment (MAT), referral to substance use disorder/opioid use disorder treatment and reduction of opioid overdose rates.

“To date, the process to develop the emergency department toolkit has informed rich discussion regarding pertinent information to ensure development of an appropriate and effective resource that will be available to emergency departments across South Dakota,” Streich shared regarding the collaborative effort.

Those interested in joining the toolkit development effort are encouraged to contact Laura Streich for more information.