Proper training could increase rate overdose drug is prescribed

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Proper training and a financial incentive can dramatically increase the number of physicians prescribing buprenorphine, a drug that prevents fatal overdoses by soothing the brain’s cravings for opioids, a recent study found.

At the beginning of the study period, 6 percent of eligible physicians at three emergency departments had the proper training to prescribe buprenorphine. After the physicians were given a $750 incentive and training, 89 percent were able to prescribe the drug six weeks later.

“This study shows how enthusiastically emergency physicians embraced the opportunity to obtain this certification, which speaks to the shifting national conversation surrounding opioid use disorder and the importance of meeting patients where they are,” Dr. Sean Foster said. “This also gives a ‘playbook’ of sorts to any leaders and administrators who may be looking for ways to get their group trained.”

Foster is an assistant professor at Emergency Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, the study’s lead researcher, and director of Quality Improvement in Emergency Medicine at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.

Researchers also discovered approximately 65 percent of physicians either prescribed or administered buprenorphine within the five months of training.

Physicians were required to devote an entire day to training to receive their waivers.

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