Assembly Republicans Nancy F. Muñoz and Declan O’Scanlon sponsor legislation, approved today by the General Assembly, to allow more first responders and other healthcare professionals to administer drug overdose antidotes and protects them from liability.
“Every second counts when reacting to an overdose situation,” said Muñoz, a registered nurse and the Deputy Republican Leader in the Assembly. “Allowing more first responders and other professionals to administer this critical first aid will help prevent more unnecessary heroin-related tragedies,” continued Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset.
Currently, under the “Overdose Prevention Act,” healthcare practitioners and pharmacists are protected from liability when prescribing, dispensing, or administering an opioid overdose antidote. This bill, A-3720, expands the list of people authorized to administer a potentially life-saving antidote and provides them immunity from liability.
Under Muñoz and O’Scanlon’s bill, opioid antidotes may be administered by sterile syringe access program employees, law enforcement officials, emergency medical technicians, and other emergency responders. In addition to heroin, opioids include drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and codeine.
“We need to provide our first responders with all the necessary tools to save lives when time is of the essence,” said O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth. “When someone’s life is in the balance, emergency workers need to be able to react appropriately, without the fear of liability. This bill permits them to provide life-sustaining treatment without second guessing themselves.”
A recent national trend of rising heroin overdose deaths across demographic groups has been reflected in New Jersey. Last year, more than 500 residents died from heroin overdoses – nearly double the number reported in 2010.
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have implemented laws making it easier for responders to give life saving antidotes to reverse overdoses.