Emergency Departments Bear the Brunt of Opioid Crisis
The opioid epidemic gripping this country is putting a particularly tight squeeze on hospital emergency departments. The epidemic of prescription painkiller and heroin abuse is killing thousands every month. Often, those at their worst are showing up in hospital emergency departments that are understaffed and not equipped to deal with the intricacies of drug addiction.
Last week, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a Statewide Disaster Declaration for heroin and opioid abuse. During a 90-day period, representatives from several state agencies will be focused on the public health crisis that has gripped Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the country.
“While the actions declared by the governor reflect an understanding of the need to remove barriers, I was disappointed to learn that there seems to be no increased support or resources for providers on the very front line of the crisis: emergency departments,” says Priya Mammen, MD, an emergency physician and director of public health programs in the department of emergency medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals and Sidney Kimmel Medical College.
Dr. Mammen, a member of the Mayor’s Task Force to Combat the Opioid Epidemic, said that EDs have been on the front lines from the beginning of the opioid epidemic, and need more financial support and resources to adequately deal with the problem.