The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (the College) is pleased to announce that College Council recently approved the Appendix on the administration of Naloxone, which now forms part of the updated Practice Guidelines for Medication Practices available on the College website. These Guidelines were developed to assist members and employers in interpreting and applying the College’s Standards of Practice.
About the New Appendix: Administration of Naloxone
College members were asked to provide feedback on the draft appendix to the Practice Guidelines on Medication Practices regarding the administration of Naloxone in January 2021.
In response to the opioid crisis, the Ministry of Health expanded public access to Naloxone, the medication used to treat the effects of opioid overdose, by making it available without a prescription at pharmacies and public health units. This medication can be administered through intra-nasal spray or intra-muscular injection.
Under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA), College members do not have the authority to administer a substance by injection or inhalation, which is a controlled act. Only certain regulated health professionals (e.g., physicians, nurses, pharmacists) have been authorized through their health profession act to perform this controlled act.
The RHPA also provides exceptions under which a controlled act may be performed by a person who is not authorized, including if the controlled act is done while giving first aid or temporary assistance in an emergency. At times, someone may be authorized to perform a controlled act if it has been appropriately delegated to them.
College members who work in mental health and substance use settings (supervised injection sites, or mental health outreach teams for example) may be expected to administer Naloxone as part of their practice. In these situations, the College expects a formal delegation to be in place.
The appendix addresses these issues in more depth and provides an overview of the following:
- having a formal delegation in place to administer Naloxone;
- administering Naloxone in emergency situations; and
- the need to have appropriate skills and training when providing a service that is not a primary area of competence for College members.
Read the Updated Practice Guidelines for Medication Practices.
Related Practice Resources
College members are encouraged to review the following practice resources to assist them in practising ethically and professionally:
- Practice Notes – Administration of Naloxone
- The College’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice
- The ETHICS→A: Ethical Decision-Making Tool
For More Information
For all inquiries related to the updated Practice Guidelines for Medication Practices and the administration of Naloxone, please contact the College’s Professional Practice Department at email@example.com.