Expert on opioid intervention and treatment in the emergency department to open SAEM18 in Indy


DES PLAINES, IL — Gail D'Onofrio, MD, MS, professor of emergency medicine and founding chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Yale School of Medicine, will open the annual meeting of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine on Wednesday, May 16, with a timely and compelling keynote address titled "The Opioid Crisis: Emergency Physicians as Innovators, Policymakers, and Heroes."

The opioid crisis in the United States has reached epidemic proportions and emergency physicians are on the front lines; as with past opioid epidemics, they are also part of the problem. The current epidemic was created with unscrupulous marketing of opioids for pain management and fueled by physician overprescribing, the creation of pain as the 5th vital sign, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) payment, and patient satisfaction scores. Emergency physicians are also, however, uniquely positioned to develop solutions, initiate treatment, refer for ongoing treatment, and take a lead in harm reduction and preventing deaths. But the challenges are daunting. The ready availability of synthetic opioids, along with social factors that have led to large pockets of despair in New England, the Appalachian and Ohio Valleys, and the Southwest, have intensified the crisis. What is the solution?

Emergency physicians around the country have partnered with state entities to develop a spectrum of innovative strategies. These strategies entail increasing access to care, identifying those at high risk for overdose, safe prescribing, offering access to Naloxone, sharing data among agencies, and decreasing stigma by recognizing not only that words matter, but accurate words matter.

Dr. D'Onofrio, who is internationally known for her work in screening emergency department patients for unhealthy alcohol and other drug use, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT), will discuss research conducted by emergency physicians that has been instrumental in moving the field forward, as well as how research has directly contributed to policy making and practice change. Real emergency physician heroes–from Syracuse, New York, Camden, New Jersey, Oakland, California, and New Hampshire–will be highlighted, along with innovative solutions emergency physicians have implemented to save lives.

Dr. D'Onofrio is widely known for her work as an independent investigator in drug and alcohol research. She is a recognized leader in emergency medicine and has participated in many NIH panels and on review committees, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Dr. D'Onofrio also has a significant track record of peer-reviewed publications, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Annals of Emergency Medicine, Academic Emergency Medicine, Academic Medicine, and Substance Abuse. Her 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) was the first-known randomized trial comparing three treatment strategies for opioid-dependent patients receiving emergency care. The findings represented a shift in the screening and treatment of patients with chronic opioid dependence.

Dr. D'Onofrio has received numerous awards for her leadership, including the coveted Association of Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA) mentoring award, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Dan Anderson Research Award, which honors a single published article by a researcher who has advanced the scientific knowledge of addiction treatment and recovery; and the 2016 SAEM Advancement of Women in Academic Emergency Medicine Award, which recognizes an SAEM member who has made significant contributions to the advancement of women in academic emergency medicine. In 2013, she became the first women to receive the SAEM Excellence in Research Award for her ground-breaking research, impact in the field, training of future researchers, and publication of academic research.


SAEM's annual meeting–the largest forum for the presentation of original education and research in academic emergency medicine– will be held May 15-18, 2018 at the JW Marriott Downtown Indianapolis. Reporters and others can follow key developments on the SAEM18 website, on the SAEM Facebook page, or @SAEMonline, #SAEM18. To obtain press credentials to attend the opening keynote address, please contact Stacey Roseen, SAEM Director of Communications & Publications, at [email protected]

The Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to the improvement of care of the acutely ill and injured patient by leading the advancement of academic emergency medicine through education and research, advocacy, and professional development. To learn more, visit

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Stacey Roseen
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