Drone delivery of emergency meds for bystanders to administer is feasible

  • Am J Emerg Med

  • curated by Emily Willingham, PhD
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • In an opioid overdose simulation, volunteers following dispatcher instructions in this study were able to administer a naloxone antidote delivered by drone.

Why this matters

  • Although this study focused on delivery of naloxone, drone delivery of emergency drugs has potentially broader applications.

Key results

  • All 30 study volunteers successfully administered the drone-delivered medication during the simulation.
  • The average time from emergency contact to drug administration was 122 (95% CI, 109-134) seconds (the drone was on top of the building they were in).
  • Prior medical training (P=.045) or experience with nasal spray drug delivery (P=.030) favored faster delivery.
  • 29 of 30 participants expressed confidence in their ability to administer the drug after participating in the simulation, compared with only 6 expressing this confidence beforehand.
  • 4 of the 30 had some physical limitations (bad knees, hearing impairment, ambulation) but still managed timely retrieval and administration of the drug.

Study design

  • Simulation with an emergency dispatcher communicating via 2-way radio with study volunteers, guiding them in retrieval and administration of naloxone to a manikin.
  • Funding: None.

Limitations

  • The time measure begins with a drone having already landed nearby, so other real-life variables, such as distance, weather, and time of day would alter these outcomes.