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Warm Hand-Off


Since January 2016, the department has worked with stakeholders to ensure a seamless transition for opioid overdose survivors from emergency medical care to specialty substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, thus improving the prospect of recovery. This concept is referred to as warm hand-off. DDAP incorporated contractual changes with the Single County Authorities (SCAs) in its 2015-2020 grant agreement that establishes the overdose survivor as a priority population and requires each SCA to create a warm hand-off policy.

Guidelines and Protocols

In February 2017 (and updated in February 2018), DDAP, along with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Pennsylvania College of Emergency Physicians, released guidelines and protocols for warm hand-off:


  • Part Five of DDAP’s Treatment Manual for the period July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2020 (effective July 1, 2015 and revised January 2016 and July 2018) addresses special population requirements, including requirements for overdose survivors.
  • The Opioid Threat in Pennsylvania Joint Intelligence Report from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (Philadelphia Division) and PittPharmacy provides an analysis of the opioid crisis via three components: supply, demand, and impact. Multiple data sources are used to clearly identify the impact of the epidemic via statistics at a county and statewide level.
  • Contact information for SCAs.


In the spring of 2018 and 2019, DDAP and DOH hosted regional Warm Hand-off Summits. The purpose of each summit was to bring together stakeholders from the public and private sectors across a range of disciplines to learn from experts and one another. In 2019, practical examples of successful warm hand-off tools and pathways built on the success of the prior year’s summits.

The regions for each summit are identified on the map below:

In 2019, the agenda for each summit was tailored to the needs identified for that region. Two workgroup activities were conducted at each summit to foster networking and sharing of knowledge among participants. Overall for the eight regional summits in 2019, there were:

  • 923 participants (47% increase over 2018)
  • 33 presenters/co-presenters
  • 26 topics
  • 3 credentialing entities approving continuing education credits

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