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Opioid Overdose

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Opioids are prescription medicines used to treat pain. Some examples include morphine, codeine, methadone, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. An overdose can occur if you take more than the recommended amount. It can also occur if you take opioids with alcohol or certain medicines that can cause harm if taken together. An overdose can also occur if you take an opioid that was prescribed for someone else. Learn to take these medicines safely. An opioid overdose can be life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Medicine:

Naloxone helps to reverse the effects of opioids.

Tests:

  • Pulse oximetry measures the percentage of oxygen in your blood. Pulse oximetry is done using a small instrument placed on your finger.
  • An arterial blood gas (ABG) test measures the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood. An ABG test also measures the pH of your blood and the amount of bicarbonate in it.
  • Blood and urine tests may be done to check the level of opioids or other substances in your body.

Treatment:

  • Oxygen may help you breathe easier if your oxygen level is lower than normal. It may be given through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. A CPAP machine may be used to keep your airway open while you sleep. You may need a ventilator if you cannot breathe on your own.
  • Counseling on how to take opioids safely will be given. Your healthcare provider may also recommend that you see a counselor if you are abusing opioids.

RISKS:

An opioid overdose can cause decreased levels of oxygen in your body. This can lead to permanent nerve and brain damage if your oxygen levels are low for a long period. An opioid overdose can become life-threatening.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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