Pilot Program Connects Patients to Care More Quickly
Catholic Medical Center (CMC) is one of three sites in the Northeast testing the feasibility of early-intervention treatment for substance use disorder (SUD). The study, called ED Connect, will start patients who screen positive for SUD on medication assisted treatment (MAT) in the emergency department. Typically, these patients are treated in the ED for their immediate medical needs and referred to outside resources for treatment.
“Medication assisted treatment is an effective way to help people who are ready for recovery. When those patients come into the emergency department, they are often in that position—being ready and motivated to get help. That time in the ED is a narrow and important window,” says CMC Chief Medical Officer William Goodman, MD.
Substance use disorder is prevalent among emergency department patients, and many of those patients use the emergency department as their primary source of health care. Often, however, SUD patients who are treated in the emergency department—whether for an overdose or another medical condition—are neither evaluated nor treated specifically for their underlying substance use disorder. Instead, they are referred to an outside program for treatment.
“That is where we are at risk of losing the opportunity to treat someone,” says Molly Rossignol, DO, addiction medicine specialist at CMC. “Capturing them in the emergency department is associated with a reduction in the likelihood of future overdose. This study will help us understand how to make the model of treating opioid use disorder in the ED successful for patients and providers.”
The study does not examine the effectiveness of MAT on the patients who are treated in the emergency department. Rather, the study looks at whether busy emergency departments can successfully screen patients, begin treatment, and refer them to ongoing treatment support. The other two hospitals participating in the study, run by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, are Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont, New Hampshire and Bellevue Hospital in New York City.