As the opioid epidemic deepens, Yale researchers say starting treatment with medication is the most cost-effective way to treat patients in hospital emergency departments. People with opioid addiction often seek treatment in EDs for overdoses and other ailments. Those who receive buprenorphine, a medication that reduces drug cravings, in the ED incur lower health care costs over the following month than those who get a referral to treatment services or receive a brief intervention with a facilitated referral, according to a new analysis of a randomized clinical trial. The analysis, published today in the journal “Addiction,” compared the estimated health care costs for patients over the 30 days following their ED visit. Those costs included ED care, addiction treatment, inpatient and outpatient costs and medications.
People addicted to drugs such as heroin, morphine and prescription pain medicine who receive treatment with medication in hospital emergency departments fare better than those who are merely referred to treatment services, according to new research from the Yale School of Medicine. Researchers have conducted the first known random trial comparing three treatment strategies for people dependent on opioids who seek emergency care. The opioids include hydrocodone and oxycodone, in addition to heroin and morphine. Among the more than 300 people in the trial, patients in emergency departments who received buprenorphine, a medication that reduces opioid cravings, had greater success than those treated in other ways, researchers found. Opioid addicts often seek care in hospital emergency departments for overdoses or other issues, according to researchers.