Nashville Paramedics: Nearly 25% More Patients Overdosing, Need Narcan Than in 2018
Significantly more patients have shown the signs of an overdose that required intervention with Narcan this year than last year, according to the Nashville Fire Department.
The NFD reported administering Narcan to 224 patients showing the signs of an overdose during the month of June, the department said.
Narcan, the brand name of naloxone, is an inhalable or injectable drug that stops overdoses by temporarily binding the portions of the brain that normally receive opioids. Naloxone has virtually no effect on someone who has not taken opioids, so the drug is not harmful if it is mistakenly given to someone who is not actually overdosing.
In June 2018, only 204 patients required the intervention.
So far in 2019, the department has administered the intervention to 1,036 overdosing patients. Year-to-date in 2018 was only 839 patients.
That is a 23% increase from last year.
NFD reported the data in a tweet Tuesday, tagging it "#OpiodCrisis."
It was not immediately clear if the increase in Narcan use was tied only to an increase in overdoses or if other policies may have come into play.
Earlier this summer, Metro Nashville Police and the Metro Public Health Department shared a warning on their platforms about a possible spike in overdoses, after several people were found dead in suspicious circumstances.
Between May 30 and June 10, the Davidson County Medical Examiner's office investigated at least 10 deaths believed to be fatal drug overdoses, according to Metro Public Health.
Of those deaths, half have been associated with an unknown white or brown powder
The toxicology reports were not available at the time to confirm if the deaths were related to overdoses, but each of the five reported deaths were investigated in connection to the powder found near the bodies.
"We know drug dealers are mixing heroin and cocaine with cheaper and deadly fentanyl," MNPD said at the time.
Last year was the deadliest ever for drug deaths in Tennessee, and while most of the nation appears to have gained ground on the opioid crisis, the Volunteer State has not.
According to new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 1,837 people died of drug overdoses in Tennessee in 2018. The CDC estimates that an additional 89 people also died of drug overdoses, but those deaths remain unconfirmed by toxicology tests.
Even excluding the estimated deaths, the 2018 death toll is an increase of 3% over 2017, which was previously the deadliest year on record.
The CDC data released this week does not reveal what drugs caused each overdose, but state experts believe Tennessee’s increase is largely attributable to rising fentanyl and methamphetamine deaths. State epidemiologist Dr. Tim Jones said the state had made significant progress cutting down on prescription opioid abuse, but these gains had been outweighed by fentanyl and meth overdoses.