Pubdate: Sat, 02 Sep 2017
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Salmaan Farooqui
Page: A6


Student leaders running the University of Ottawa's orientation week
events won't be allowed to administer the opioid antidote naloxone in
the event of an overdose because of liability concerns if the
injection were to go wrong.

Hadi Wess, president of the undergraduate student union that runs the
events, said the group initially planned to have about 100 student
leaders carry naloxone kits to combat any overdoses that could occur
during the parties and events that get under way over the long
weekend. The measure was to prepare for the possibility that
substances such as the deadly opioid fentanyl could be mixed with
other drugs that might be consumed.

That plan was recently abandoned, however, after the union consulted
with lawyers, local health organizations and protection services on
campus and realized it could be held liable if the antidote was
injected improperly and led to a person being injured, Mr. Wess said.

A large portion of the University of Ottawa's orientation-week
activities are run by the student union, Mr. Wess explained, a
situation that is different from many other schools where the
university administration is in charge.

"This is why we have to take a lot of extra measures when it comes to
insurance and when considering liabilities," Mr. Wess said. "We are
under the Ontario Corporation Act for not-for-profits, so it is a
liability for us if [naloxone] is administered in a wrong way."

Student leaders at orientation events are being trained to call, in
the case of an overdose, on campus emergency employees who can
administer naloxone if needed, Mr. Wess said.

"These people are all 17, 18-year olds, it's the first time they're
away from home, they're vulnerable and they could go through substance
abuse and peer pressure, so we want to make sure they're safe," Mr.
Wess said.

Student leaders will also be allowed to carry naloxone when they're
off duty and not wearing orientation week uniforms, he added.

Some other universities said they had not encountered similar

The University of Toronto said it had not heard discussion among
student groups regarding the use of naloxone kits at orientation week.
And Ryerson University said student leaders haven't shown a desire to
carry naloxone this year, but noted that emergency medical services on
campus will have the kits.

Meanwhile, the University of Calgary said it doesn't have a policy on
the matter and doesn't direct students on what to do, but it does
allow anyone to carry and administer naloxone if they wish to.

"We don't see a downside," said Debbie Bruckner, senior director of
student wellness, access and support at the university. "What's clear
to us from the medical officer of health is that if someone is
struggling in terms of breathing, there's no need for a certain
diagnosis. You administer naloxone because there's no negative side

Rosana Salvaterra, an officer of health in Peterborough, Ont., said
naloxone is a "powerful tool" against overdoses and said she was
surprised student leaders won't be allowed to carry it at the
University of Ottawa's orientation.

The biggest concern may be needle-related injuries, but Ms. Salvaterra
said chances of injury during injection are mitigated by the fact that
training is mandatory when receiving a naloxone kit. She also said
naloxone needles are designed to retract after the injection takes
place, which further reduces risk of injury.
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