If someone overdosed, would you know what to do?
Leaders at Mission Hospital Laguna Beach want you to know and are offering a free course to help people recognize an opioid overdose and training on how to administer Naloxone (or Narcan), a medication that can reverse the effects of an overdose and save a life.
Nurses from the chemical dependency unit will lead the two-hour session Monday, April 23, which begins at 6 in the hospital auditorium on the Laguna campus.
There is good reason to hold the course here.
Laguna Beach recorded the second highest percentage of opioid overdoses in the county per capita, second only to the Balboa Peninsula in 2016, according to the California Department of Public Health and its Opioid Surveillance Dashboard.
And as a measure of the potential impact of opioids on the town, Laguna Beach city officials in March agreed to join a lawsuit by the counties of Santa Clara and Orange against several pharmaceutical companies and others involved in the making, marketing, and distribution of opioids.
The complaint cites causes of action for violations of California’s False Advertising Law and Unfair Competition Law and for a public nuisance. The complaint seeks civil penalties, abatement, and injunctive relief.
If the suit succeeds, City Attorney Phil Kohn said the penalties will likely be tied to funding for public education, public safety, medical treatment and care associated with the public costs of dealing with the consequences of the overprescribing of opioid products. “No community, including Laguna Beach, has been immune from the problem,” said Kohn, though he could not say if city officials have tried to quantify its impact.
We know that families and relatives that lose family members to addiction and overdoses bear incalculable costs and scars that never heal.
Some agencies, though, are trying to assess the public costs of what is now the leading cause of unintentional death in the nation, exceeding that of fatalities caused by car wrecks.
Opioid related emergency department visits have doubled countywide since 2007 and now account for 1,700 patients annually entering hospitals suffering from overdoses or dependency, according to a 2017 report by the Orange County Health Care Agency. Adults between the ages of 18 and 34 accounted for half the abusers.
Laguna Beach recorded 16 opioid deaths between 2001 and 2015, according to the county report.
As a community, the report estimates the 4,100 people hospitalized over the past five years due to opioid-related causes cost $133 million, though four in 10 were covered by private insurance.
And as a measure of how many lives were saved, emergency medical responders administered 1,500 doses of Naloxone in each of the last two years, the report says.
Paramedics in Laguna Beach now carry the medication among their supplies.
Info on the Mission Hospital class: 877 459-3627.