Models for Implementing Emergency Department-Initiated Buprenorphine With Referral for Ongoing Medication Treatment at Emergency Department Discharge in Diverse Academic Centers

Ann Emerg Med. 2022 Nov;80(5):410-419. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2022.05.010. Epub 2022 Jun 23.


There has been a substantial rise in the number of publications and training opportunities on the care and treatment of emergency department (ED) patients with opioid use disorder over the past several years. The American College of Emergency Physicians recently published recommendations for providing buprenorphine to patients with opioid use disorder, but barriers to implementing this clinical practice remain. We describe the models for implementing ED-initiated buprenorphine at 4 diverse urban, academic medical centers across the country as part of a federally funded effort termed "Project ED Health." These 4 sites successfully implemented unique ED-initiated buprenorphine programs as part of a comparison of implementation facilitation to traditional educational dissemination on the uptake of ED-initiated buprenorphine. Each site describes the elements central to the ED process, including screening, treatment initiation, referral, and follow-up, while harnessing organizational characteristics, including ED culture. Finally, we discuss common facilitators to program success, including information technology and electronic medical record integration, hospital-level support, strong connections with outpatient partners, and quality improvement processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Buprenorphine* / therapeutic use
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Patient Discharge
  • Referral and Consultation


  • Buprenorphine
  • Narcotic Antagonists