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1 in 5 Emergency Dept. Physicians Ready to Offer Buprenorphine

May 11, 2020

A study of nearly 400 clinicians at four urban academic emergency departments found that about 1 in 5 emergency department clinicians say they are ready to offer buprenorphine to patients in need for the treatment of opioid use disorder.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at Yale between April 2018 and January 2019, appears in the May 11 issue of JAMA Network Open. The participating emergency departments were: Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, and University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

The study was the first installment in Project ED Health, an initiative funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network to support strategies to support strategies for increasing buprenorphine prescribing in emergency departments.

In collecting feedback from providers through an anonymous, web-based survey: researchers identified several barriers to providing buprenorphine for emergency department clinicians:

  • Lack of formal training
  • Limitations on time
  • Limited knowledge of local treatment resources
  • Absence of local protocols and referral networks
  • Perception that initiating buprenorphine therapy is not within the scope and practice of emergency medicine

Survey participants also expressed confusion over waivers required to prescribe buprenorphine. A bill introduced in Congress by Rep. Paul Tonko of New York in 2019, named the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, would remove the requirement that prescribers obtain the separate buprenorphine prescribing waiver, known as the DATA 2000 X-waiver.

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