Overdoses Keep Showing Up In Emergency Departments

By July 28, 2016Health

Submitted. Fraser Health continues to see overdoses in our emergency departments resulting from people who use illicit drugs, including opioids. While the administration of naloxone has reversed the effects of some of these overdoses, tragically one person has died at Surrey Memorial Hospital. There have also been additional suspected deaths across the region since the recent spike in overdoses in Surrey.

“It is important to note that these individuals include not only people who use drugs regularly but also those who use drugs on a recreational basis. In addition, people report taking a variety of drugs including but not limited to heroin, crack cocaine, cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy and GHB,” said Dr. Victoria Lee, chief medical health officer. “At this time, we are warning people that all drugs may be contaminated with lethal substances.”

Since the recent spike in overdoses, we have distributed more than 250 naloxone kits in Surrey. These kits have been distributed at Surrey Memorial Hospital, opioid substitution therapy clinics, on the street and through our community partners. All 12 Fraser Health emergency departments are registered to distribute naloxone and eight of these are actively issuing kits. The remainder will begin distributing kits in the coming weeks as take-home naloxone supplies are received by our sites. Since the weekend of July 15, when we saw 43 overdoses between Friday and Monday, we have seen an average of three overdoses per day at Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Today, we are posting a social media kit, including photos and social media posts, to our overdose hub and distributing the kit to our community stakeholders to help disseminate this information to the public. In the coming weeks, we will distribute posters in various community locations including transit stops, bars and restaurants. The posters will accompany an ongoing social media awareness campaign targeting the various types of people who use drugs, their families and friends.
To people who use drugs, and to their friends and families:

If you are using drugs, do testers and go slow.
If you are using drugs, have a buddy you can trust with you who is sober, able to recognize the signs of an overdose, and willing to call for medical help if you need it.
If you are using drugs alone, tell someone before you use, leave the door unlocked and have someone check on you.
If you are using drugs, we strongly advise you not to mix multiple substances, including alcohol. Mixing opioids with downers or opioids with uppers puts you at higher risk of overdose.

Fraser Health will continue to increase the number of take-home naloxone kits available to people who use drugs, their families and supporters. The aim of these kits is to provide people who use opioids with an opportunity to prevent an overdose and reduce harm in emergency situations.

The public health emergency called on April 14th by British Columbia’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, remains in effect. Yesterday, Premier Christy Clark announced a newly-formed Joint Task Force on Overdose Response headed by Dr. Kendall and Clayton Pecknold, director of police services.

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