Opioid overdose detection using smartphones

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Science Translational Medicine  09 Jan 2019:
Vol. 11, Issue 474, eaau8914
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aau8914

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Preventing overdose

Opioid addiction and overdose remain serious health concerns in the United States. Naloxone can reverse opioid overdose but requires timely intervention. Toward this goal, Nandakumar et al. converted a smartphone to detect changes in respiration that precede opioid overdose. Using sonar, the smartphone detected respiratory depression and apnea (temporary lack of breathing) in humans after self-injected drug use in a supervised injection facility. Respiratory changes during general anesthesia, which simulates opioid-induced overdose, were also detected in a clinical setting. This proof-of-concept overdose detection device is encouraging; further optimization, including integrating an alert system to notify local emergency medical services of detected overdoses, would be necessary.