Cedars-Sinai to Test New Opioid Abuse Treatment Method

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A $5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will enable the Cedars-Sinai Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences to lead a multi-site study that aims to improve care for hospitalized patients with opioid use disorder, it was announced today.

Patients with opioid use disorder are commonly hospitalized for medical complications of drug use, such as infections and overdoses. Between 2002 and 2012, hospitalizations for complications of opioid use increased to more than 500,000 admissions per year in the U.S.

Effective treatments are available for opioid use disorders, yet few hospitals offer them during an inpatient stay, instead typically focusing on treating acute medical problems. All too commonly, if patients are given anything, it is a list of referral options without any follow-up.

View of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

While internists and surgeons see the ravages of addiction and want to intervene, they often have limited training or experience and may defer addressing conditions like opioid use disorder to outpatient providers. Few hospitals directly link patients to community aftercare programs, and many patients slip through the cracks.

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai, the Santa Monica-based RAND Corp., the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Baystate Health in Springfield, Massachusetts, will evaluate a new model of care that aims to identify individuals with opioid use disorders, start them on treatment, and directly link them to aftercare programs in the community.

The intervention will involve a consultative care team, comprised of a care manager and physician specializing in addiction treatment, who will guide medical and surgical teams to help them incorporate evidence-based treatments for addiction. Addiction consultation teams have been established at several hospitals across the county, but have never been evaluated in a patient- level randomized controlled trial.

“Hospitalization represents a critical window of opportunity to identify underlying health problems or disparities, and initiate interventions to address them,” said Dr. Itai Danovitch, chair of the Cedars-Sinai Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences and co-principal investigator of the study.

“Opioid use disorders are a very compelling example of this, because once somebody is hospitalized for an overdose, their long-term risk of returning to the hospital is exceptionally high,” Danovitch said.

“Offering addiction treatment and getting them on the road to recovery has a profound impact on health, and also helps to reduce avoidable readmissions and health care costs. This is an opportunity to improve value for patients and improve efficiency for systems of care.”

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