BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Medical and nursing students are adding a course to their training: how to treat heroin overdoses.
It’s a new problem for some, an old issue for others, but no matter how you look at it, drug overdoses in Maryland are up.
Maryland saw a 62 percent increase from 2015 to 2016, and the state’s Chief Medical Examiner is hoping to save more lives.
“I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years, and I just have never seen anything like this,” says Maryland’s Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. David Richard Fowler.
Nearly 1,500 deaths from drug overdoses occurred within nine months in 2016, mostly from the use of heroin and fentanyl.
Governor Larry Hogan declared it a state of emergency.
Dr. Fowler is teaching nursing and medical students from the University of Maryland, how to treat overdose patients with naloxone.
“Naloxone is a very useful antidote. The problem is, some of these drugs are now so powerful, it takes more than one dose of naloxone,” says Dr. Fowler.
Naloxone is drug used to revive people who have overdosed on drugs. Fowler says it’s a great tool, but not a magic bullet.
“Naloxone only works for about half an hour. Many of these drugs will stay in a person’s system for longer than that. So, as the naloxone’s effect wears off, they can go back under and still die because of the drug that they took,” he says.
Dr. Fowler says even if someone has naloxone administered to them, and they are revived, it’s still the best practice to visit an emergency room and seek medical attention.