Thursday, November 24, 2011

Initial results from evaluation of Washington State's "911 Good Samaritan Law"

Washington State passed an overdose bill granting immunity from drug possession charges for those who witness or experience an overdose if help is sought AND granting legal and professional immunity to those who prescribe, dispense, purchase, possess, administer, or use naloxone with the intent to reverse opioid overdose.

Dr Caleb Banta-Green, of the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, headed up an evaluation of this law, with an emphasis on the "Good Samaritan" component that protects from drug charges. The study is funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to look at the law's legal intent, implementation, and outcomes. This is the first such evaluation of this type of law in the United States.

The study will ultimately include evaluations of behavior change among drug users, police, and paramedics during heroin overdoses, the legal intent of the law through document reviews and interviews with legislators and other stakeholders, and changes in the rates of opioid overdose (fatal and non-fatal), 911 overdose call volume and severity, and naloxone administration by lay persons and medical professionals.

Disclaimer: I am one of the co-investigators on this study.

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