Do Patients with Opioid Dependence Benefit from Buprenorphine/Naloxone Treatment Initiation in the Emergency Department?
Background: North America’s current opioid crisis, much of it iatrogenic (2), has led to significant increases in ED visits associated with opioids (3). These patients often present after poisoning, in withdrawal, or with other health issues associated with their disease.
It is well accepted that Opioid Replacement Therapy (ORT), namely, methadone and buprenorphine/naloxone, are successful harm reduction agents shown to improve health and social outcomes (4). Several individual providers, and even large academic institutions, have started initiating ORT, specifically buprenorphine/naloxone, in the ED when dependent patients present in withdrawal.
D’Onofrio et al., in 2015, published outcomes after 30-days from a clinical trial of patients who met criteria for opioid dependence in the ED that were randomized to one of three interventions: referral, brief intervention or ED-initiated buprenorphine followed by 10 weeks of continued buprenorphine treatment in a primary care setting (5). They found that patients receiving ED initiated buprenorphine with continuation in primary care were more likely to be engaged in formal addiction treatment at 30 days (p < 0.001). More recently, they have published follow-up outcomes on a subset from the original study at 2, 6 and 12 months. Read more →