Legal Review of State Emergency Medical Services Policies and Protocols for Naloxone Administration

Published in: Drug and Alcohol Dependence (2022). doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2022.109589

Posted on on August 02, 2022

by Rosanna Smart, Rebecca Lee Haffajee, Corey S. Davis


Given the continued rise in opioid-related overdoses, many states have expanded access to the opioid antagonist naloxone. We sought to provide comprehensive data on one such strategy: the authority of providers at different emergency medical services (EMS) licensure levels to administer naloxone.


We conducted a systematic legal review of state laws and protocols governing the authority of different EMS licensure levels to administer naloxone. We used Westlaw, state government websites and scope of practice protocols. We coded relevant policies regarding which, if any, administration routes and dosages of naloxone are permitted for each licensure level: emergency medical responder (EMR), emergency medical technician (EMT), advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT), and paramedic.


As of July 2020, all states with relevant laws or protocols authorize paramedics, AEMTs, and EMTs to administer naloxone. Thirty-nine states with an EMR licensure level and statewide protocol authorize naloxone administration by EMRs, up from only two in 2013. Permissible routes of administration have increased across all EMS provider levels, providing advanced life support providers (i.e., paramedics and AEMTs) with expanded discretion; however, authorization for intravenous and intramuscular administration remains relatively uncommon for basic life support (BLS) providers. When specified, maximum doses authorized ranged widely, from 2.0 to 12.0 milligrams.


Naloxone administration authority is now widely granted to EMS providers. Most states allow all licensed EMS provider levels to administer naloxone, a substantial increase for EMRs and EMTs since 2013. Paramedics and AEMTs have the greatest authority to select the dosage and route of administration.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.