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50-state survey Harm Reduction Legal ProjectHarm Reduction Legal Project ResourcesOpioid Misuse and Overdose Prevention

Substance Use Disorder (SUD)-Related Emergency Department Mandates

October 19, 2021


Drug overdose is a nationwide epidemic that claimed the lives of approximately 90,000 people in the United States in 2020. While many individuals with substance use disorder or who have experienced a nonfatal overdose do not seek treatment in hospital emergency departments (ED), nearly 975,000 nonfatal drug overdoses were treated in EDs in 2017.

We conducted a systematic legal review to determine the prevalence and characteristics of state laws that require some or all hospital emergency departments to create protocols to screen patients for substance use disorder as well as those that require that hospitals take specific actions when providing care to such individuals or individuals who have experienced an overdose. We excluded laws that do not apply to hospital EDs, as well as documents that do not have the force of law such as guidelines and best practice transmittals. Where a law requires more than one activity, we list the law under the heading of the most expansive requirement.