NJ hospitals handling more heroin overdose victims
When overdose victims first arrive, doctors will frequently administer the drug Narcan to stop respiratory failure and wake them up, according to Dr. Bob Sweeney, the chairman of emergency medicine at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.
Sweeney said overdose victims will then be checked for other medical problems, but authorities will not be called because of patient confidentiality. In addition, medical staff will offer treatment, but overdose victims aren't required to accept it.
"We can get them information and get them home, but if I said 'let's keep you in the hospital or let's try to admit you to a rehab place' - unless they're willing and agreeable to it, we can't do that," Sweeney said. "What we're basically left with is trying to discuss with the patient that they know that they have a problem."
Sweeney said the best doctors can do is encourage patients to get help. He said the sad part is "people can and do accidentally kill themselves."
The rise in heroin use is directly tied to the growing problem of prescription drug abuse according to drug experts.