Addiction consultation services - Linking hospitalized patients to outpatient addiction treatment

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2017 Aug;79:1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2017.05.007. Epub 2017 May 11.


Background: Approximately 15% of hospitalized patients have an active substance use disorder (SUD). Starting treatment for SUD, including medications, during acute hospitalizations can engage patients in addiction care. In July 2015, the Boston Medical Center Addiction Consult Service (ACS), began providing inpatient diagnostic, management, and discharge linkage consultations. We describe this implementation.

Methods: The ACS staff recorded SUDs diagnoses and medication recommendations and tracked follow-up data for affiliated outpatient office-based addiction clinics and methadone maintenance programs. We assessed the number of consults, SUDs diagnoses, medications recommended and initiated, and outpatient addiction clinic follow-up.

Results: Over 26weeks, the BMC ACS completed 337 consults: 78% had an opioid use disorder (UD), 37% an alcohol UD, 28% a cocaine UD, 9% a benzodiazepine UD, 3% a cannabinoid (including K2) UD, and <1% a methamphetamine UD. Methadone was initiated in 70 inpatients and buprenorphine in 40 inpatients. Naltrexone was recommended 45 times (for opioid UD, alcohol UD, or both). Of the patients initiated on methadone, 76% linked to methadone clinic, with 54%, 39%, and 29% still retained at 30, 90, and 180days, respectively. For buprenorphine, 49% linked to clinic, with 39%, 27%, and 18% retained at 30, 90, and 180days, respectively. For naltrexone, 26% linked to clinic, all with alcohol UD alone.

Conclusions: A new inpatient addiction consultation service diagnosed and treated hospitalized patients with substance use disorders and linked them to outpatient addiction treatment care. Initiating addiction medications, particularly opioid agonists, was feasible in the inpatient setting. Optimal linkage and retention of hospitalized patients to post-discharge addiction care warrants further innovation and program development.

Keywords: Addiction consultation; Inpatient; Linkage to care; Opioid agonists treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Aftercare
  • Ambulatory Care / methods*
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Boston
  • Continuity of Patient Care*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*