Selected Topics: Toxicology| Volume 57, ISSUE 2, P181-186, August 2019

Retrospective Review of a Novel Approach to Buprenorphine Induction in the Emergency Department



      The Emergency Department (ED) frequently treats patients with drug overdoses and is an important resource for individuals with opioid use disorder who are seeking treatment. Initiating medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in the ED seems to be an effective way to link patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) to treatment programs. There is ongoing discussion on the best approach to MAT in the ED setting.


      Describe a new model for managing OUD in the ED.


      Information was obtained retrospectively from the electronic medical records of patients seen in a large county tertiary care center’s Clinical Decision Unit (CDU) for OUD between September 1, 2017 and February 6, 2018. Data were summarized descriptively.


      There were 18 different patients placed in the CDU during the study period. Ninety-five percent were induced with buprenorphine-naloxone in the CDU. The median initial Clinical Opioid Withdrawal Scale score at the time of induction was 10. The median total dose of buprenorphine-naloxone that was administered was 8/2 mg. The median amount of time spent in the CDU and ED combined was 23 h. Approximately (12/19) 63% of subjects went to their initial follow-up appointment in clinic. Nine were still active in clinic at 30 days and 4 were active at 6 months.


      This retrospective chart review shows promising preliminary data for managing OUD in an ED CDU. Such strategies have the potential to increase access to care in a vulnerable patient population.


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