Hospital policy as a harm reduction intervention for people who use drugs
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Hospitals are a critical touchpoint for people who use drugs (PWUD). However, hospital policies, both formal and informal, can have a detrimental impact on PWUD in acute care settings. Introducing new policies, or revising existing policies that inadvertently harm or stigmatize PWUD while hospitalized, could be an effective harm reduction intervention for this high-risk population. This paper explores seven areas where institutional policy change could improve the hospital experience of PWUD: (1) use of nonprescribed substances in hospital, (2) supporting inpatient addiction consultation services (3) in-hospital supervised consumption spaces (4) supply and distribution of safe drug use equipment and naloxone, (5) role of security services and personal searches, (6) use of hospital restrictions, and (7) involvement of PWUD in policy development.
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