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Medical News & Perspectives
June 5, 2018

As Overdoses Climb, Emergency Departments Begin Treating Opioid Use Disorder

JAMA. 2018;319(21):2158-2160. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.4648

Until recently, when people came to Massachusetts General Hospital’s emergency department (ED) desperate to stop using heroin or prescription painkillers, physicians could only hand them a list of telephone numbers for treatment programs, numbers many of them had already called, only to be told they couldn’t get in.

“That was so frustrating for all of us,” recalled Ali Raja, MD, executive vice chair of the department. “We weren’t trained or equipped to dispense buprenorphine,” 1 of 3 approved drugs used to treat opioid use disorder.