In-Hospital Methadone Enrollment: a Novel Program to Facilitate Linkage from the Hospital to the Opioid Treatment Program for Vulnerable Patients with Opioid Use Disorder

Link to article at PubMed

J Gen Intern Med. 2023 Sep 15. doi: 10.1007/s11606-023-08411-0. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: Methadone ameliorates opioid withdrawal among hospitalized patients with opioid use disorder (OUD). To continue methadone after hospital discharge, patients must enroll in an opioid treatment program (OTP) per federal regulations. Uncontrolled opioid withdrawal is a barrier to linkage from hospital to OTP.

AIM: Describe a federally compliant In-Hospital Methadone Enrollment Team (IN-MEET) that enrolls hospitalized patients with OUD into an OTP with facilitated hospital to OTP linkage.

SETTING: Seven hundred-bed university hospital in Aurora, CO.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: A physician dually affiliated with a hospital's addiction consultation service and a community OTP completes an in-hospital, face-to-face medical assessment required by federal law and titrates methadone to comfort. An OTP-affiliated nurse with hospital privileges completes a psychosocial evaluation and provides case management by arranging transportation and providing weekly telephone check-ins.

PROGRAM EVALUATION METRICS: IN-MEET enrollments completed, hospital to OTP linkage, and descriptive characteristics of patients who completed IN-MEET enrollments compared to patients who completed community OTP enrollments.

RESULTS: Between April 2019 and April 2023, our team completed 165 IN-MEET enrollments. Among a subset of 73 IN-MEET patients, 56 (76.7%) presented to the OTP following hospital discharge. Compared to community OTP enrolled patients (n = 1687), a higher percentage of IN-MEET patients were older (39.7 years, standard deviation [SD] 11.2 years vs. 36.1 years, SD 10.6 years) and were unhoused (n = 43, 58.9% vs. n = 199, 11.8%). Compared to community OTP enrolled patients, a higher percentage of IN-MEET patients reported heroin or fentanyl as their primary substance (n = 53, 72.6% vs. n = 677, 40.1%), reported methamphetamine as their secondary substance (n = 27, 37.0% vs. n = 380, 22.5%), and reported they injected their primary substance (n = 46, 63.0% vs. n = 478, 28.3%).

CONCLUSION: IN-MEET facilitates hospital to OTP linkage among a vulnerable population. This model has the potential to improve methadone access for hospitalized patients who may not otherwise seek out treatment.

PMID:37715094 | DOI:10.1007/s11606-023-08411-0

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