Boston hospital will screen all patients for substance abuse

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

July 2, 2014


Massachusetts General Hospital will begin the uncommon practice of questioning its patients about their use of drugs and alcohol in an effort to curb substance abuse in its early stages and to improve addiction treatment, according to a report in the Boston Globe.
According to the report, the hospital will present patients with a battery of four questions designed to assess the individual’s level of substance use. If an addiction is suspected, doctors can direct a team to perform a “bedside intervention” and treatment if necessary.
The paper quotes national data, which indicates that nearly one-quarter of patients in the hospital for routine medical problems have active substance abuse disorders. In addition, Massachusetts and other states have seen a recent epidemic of opioid abuse and overdoses.
The hospital’s new effort will join several other Boston hospitals that have started similar initiatives over the last 20 years, which has aimed at reducing the overall levels of substance abuse, as well as reducing the costs of healthcare involved with lengthier hospital stays and readmission rates.