Cork treatment centre trains addicts in resuscitation skills in effort to prevent overdose deaths

International research   revealed that patient education, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) education, was helping to reduce the incidence of fatal and non-fatal overdose in substance users. Photograph: Getty Images

International research revealed that patient education, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) education, was helping to reduce the incidence of fatal and non-fatal overdose in substance users. Photograph: Getty Images

Tue, Apr 8, 2014, 01:00


A Cork treatment centre is training people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol in resuscitation skills in a bid to prevent death from overdose.

The quality improvement initiative at Arbour House, a non-residential centre for people with alcohol and drug misuse problems, won overall Rehabilitation Centre of the Year award at the recent Commercial Media Group healthcare awards.

The educational intervention was developed after an audit of clients conducted by Dr Aidan Horan, specialist GP at Arbour House, indicated that 55.7 per cent had suffered an overdose in their lives and there appeared to be a significant naivety about the risks of overdose.

International research had also revealed that patient education, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) education, was helping to reduce the incidence of fatal and non-fatal overdose in substance users.

A resuscitation skills education programme for clients and staff was implemented at Arbour House, with the assistance of colleagues from the National Ambulance Service and Cork University Hospital emergency department. The programme simulated real-life scenarios using role play on the appropriate reactions following an
overdose.

Participants learned how to avoid ove rdoses occurring and what to do in the event of such a reality, including how to place an unconscious patient in the recovery position and how and when to perform

CPR .

Dr Conor Deasy, consultant in emergency medicine at Cork University Hospital, outlined the importance of giving information to emergency staff , explaining that this could make a difference to the patient’s recovery. He highlighted the importance of the “buddy system” so drug users would have someone to raise an alarm if things went wrong.

Dr Horan said the risk of overdose was greatest when people were injecting substances while alone or after a period of abstinence when tolerance levels had dropped.