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Buprenorphine (Suboxone) Initiation for Opioid Use Disorder Patients
- For patients with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD – addiction) who are in withdrawal and wanting help.
- ED sees more of these patients than anyone else and we have the opportunity to intervene to initiate opioid agonist therapy with buprenorphine (Suboxone), which has the best evidence for saving lives and treating OUD.
- Initiate in ED and refer to outpatient opioid agonist therapy prescriber/addictions clinic.
- Risk of precipitating withdrawal with starting Suboxone when patient is not in full withdrawal.
- Suboxone (buprenorphine) = buprenorphine /naloxone combination pill available in doses of 8mg/2mg and 2mg/0.5mg.
- Suboxone initiation based on Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS). Please see: sample instruction sheet from Island Health.
- The goal is to err on the side of being conservative and waiting as long as possible to start treatment to ensure patient is in withdrawal.
- Ideally at least 8-10 hours after last use and when Cows score is at least 12.
- If in doubt can give ½ of 2mg tab sl to test.
Criteria For Hospital Admission
- Observation unit useful to allow time to be in full withdrawal in order to start medication.
Criteria For Close Observation And/or Consult
- Once treatment has started and Suboxone is given, the patient COWS is repeated q 1h and medication is given until patient symptoms controlled.
- Routine monitoring applies.
Criteria For Safe Discharge Home
- Patient has take-home naloxone kit, information on addiction medicine clinic, and enough Suboxone to last until first appointment.
- If being discharged with take-home or take-away Suboxone, should be sure that the patient is not consuming large quantities of alcohol or benzodiazepines. Suboxone on its own will not respiratory suppression, but there have been case reports of it possibly facilitating it in combination with alcohol and benzos.
- See: Suboxone Self Start Instructions for Patients (source: Island Health).
Quality Of Evidence?
We are highly confident that the true effect lies close to that of the estimate of the effect. There is a wide range of studies included in the analyses with no major limitations, there is little variation between studies, and the summary estimate has a narrow confidence interval.
We consider that the true effect is likely to be close to the estimate of the effect, but there is a possibility that it is substantially different. There are only a few studies and some have limitations but not major flaws, there are some variations between studies, or the confidence interval of the summary estimate is wide.
When the true effect may be substantially different from the estimate of the effect. The studies have major flaws, there is important variations between studies, of the confidence interval of the summary estimate is very wide.
Clinical Expert Review; RCTs
OTHER RELEVANT INFORMATION
Suboxone Self Start Instructions for Patients (Source: Island Health)
ER Suboxone Initiation Instructions and Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS) (Source: Island Health)
Jacobs P, Ang A, Hillhouse MP, Saxon AJ, Nielsen S, Wakim PG, Mai BE, Mooney LJ, S. Potter J, Blaine JD. Treatment outcomes in opioid dependent patients with different buprenorphine/naloxone induction dosing patterns and trajectories. Am J Addict. 2015; 24(7):667–675.
The purpose of this document is to provide health care professionals with key facts and recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of patients in the emergency department. This summary was produced by the BC Emergency Medicine Network and uses the best available knowledge at the time of publication. However, healthcare professionals should continue to use their own judgment and take into consideration context, resources and other relevant factors. The BC Emergency Medicine Network is not liable for any damages, claims, liabilities, costs or obligations arising from the use of this document including loss or damages arising from any claims made by a third party. The BC Emergency Medicine Network also assumes no responsibility or liability for changes made to this document without its consent.
Last Updated Nov 17, 2018
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