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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 and the Pennsylvania College of Emergency Physicians, released guidelines and protocols for warm hand-off:



  • Part Six of DDAP’s Treatment Manual for the period July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2020 (effective July 1, 2015 and revised January 2016) addresses special population requirements, including requirements for overdose survivors
  • The CDC Vital Signs is a report released monthly, each focusing on an important health threat. The March 2018 issue of CDC Vital Signs provides information about opioid overdoses, specifically those treated in emergency departments.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) produces Treatment Improvement Protocols (TIPs). In TIP 63, SAMSHA provides information on the use of the three Food and Drug Administration-approved medications used to treat opioid use disorder and the other strategies and services needed to support recovery. The executive summary provides an overview and links to each of the five parts of the TIP.
  • The Analysis of Overdose Deaths in Pennsylvania, 2016 Joint Intelligence Report from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and PittPharmacy provides statistics by county and a variety of demographics for 2016 overdose deaths in Pennsylvania.

For information about warm hand-off and the summits visit the pages in the right navigation or email