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Improving harm reduction with a naloxone intervention in primary care to prescribe and educate a support person

Julienne K. Kirk, PharmD, CDE, BCPS, Matthew Q. Tran, PharmD, Samantha Pelc, PharmD, Katherine G. Moore, PharmD, BCPS, BCACP


Objective: To determine whether a pharmacist-led intervention would increase the number of naloxone prescriptions and naloxone administration education in a primary care family medicine setting.

Design: Prospective quality improvement intervention in an academic family medicine clinic.

Methods: We surveyed providers about naloxone knowledge, prescribing habits, and prescribing barriers. We identified patients on chronic opioid therapy, through electronic health records for the year 2019. Overdose risk categories based upon morphine milligram equivalent doses and concomitant benzodiazepine use were used to determine patients who met criteria for naloxone. Pharmacists phoned qualified patients to discuss overdose risk and naloxone benefits. Patients who accepted naloxone prescriptions used their local pharmacy through a department-approved standing order set.

Results: From the survey results, there were 47 of 54 provider responses, and the majority noted that they do not routinely prescribe naloxone in high-risk patients. The predominant barriers were lack of time during visit and naloxone administration education. The population of patients from chart review included 93 high-risk patients with a mean age of 58 years. During the time of intervention, 71 patients remained eligible for naloxone coprescribing. Of the patients contacted, 29 (40 percent) accepted the intervention prescription, and subsequently, 22 picked up their prescription from the pharmacy. Sixteen received counseling with a support person. Twelve patients had naloxone already at home, and two received counseling with a support person.

Conclusion: The naloxone prescribing intervention is achievable. The results of this intervention support identifying patients at increased risk of opioid overdose and offer education of a support person for naloxone in a large academic family medicine clinic.


naloxone, harm reduction, support person, counseling, primary care

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