Implementation of a Process for Initiating Naltrexone in Patients Hospitalized for Alcohol Detoxification or Withdrawal

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BACKGROUNDNaltrexone trials have demonstrated improved outcomes for patients with alcohol use disorders. Hospital initiation of naltrexone has had limited study.OBJECTIVESTo describe the implementation and impact of a process for counseling hospitalized patients with alcohol withdrawal about naltrexone.DESIGNA pre-post study analysis.SETTINGA tertiary academic center.PATIENTSPatients hospitalized for alcohol withdrawal.INTERVENTIONS(1) Provider education about the efficacy and contraindications of naltrexone and (2) algorithms for evaluating patients for naltrexone.MEASUREMENTSThe percentages of patients counseled about and prescribed naltrexone before discharge and the percentages of pre- and postintervention patients with 30-day emergency department (ED) revisits and rehospitalizations.RESULTSWe identified 128 patient encounters before and 114 after implementation. The percentage of patients counseled about naltrexone rose from 1.6% preimplementation to 63.2% postimplementation (P < .001); the percentage of patients prescribed naltrexone rose from 1.6% to 28.1% (P < .001). Comparing preintervention versus postintervention groups, there were no unadjusted differences in 30-day ED revisits (25.8% vs 19.3%; P = .23) or rehospitalizations (10.2% vs 11.4%; P = .75). When adjusted for demographics and comorbidities, postintervention patients had lower odds of 30-day ED revisits (odds ratio [OR] = 0.47; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.24–0.94) but no significant difference in rehospitalizations (OR = 0.76; 95% CI, 0.30–1.92). In subgroup analysis, postintervention patients counseled versus those not counseled about naltrexone were less likely to have 30-day ED revisits (9.7% vs 35.7%; P = .001) and rehospitalizations (2.8% vs 26.2%; P < .001).CONCLUSIONSThe implementation of a process for counseling patients hospitalized for alcohol withdrawal about using naltrexone for the maintenance of sobriety was associated with lower 30-day ED revisits but no statistically significant difference in rehospitalizations.

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