Q&A: Assisting patients with substance use disorders

September 2, 2020
Medicare Web

Q: It’s often convenient to pass along a list of resources to patients, but we’ve found that this may not be the best approach when working with patients battling substance use disorders. What are your suggestions for providing help to these patients?

A: This is true. Case managers working in the outpatient setting strive to give patients resources to help themselves, but it should be acknowledged that patients presenting to acute care settings are the outliers in that they need more tangible help implementing a plan, says Diane Iverson, RN, BSN, BS, ACM, CCM, a Baltimore-area case manager.

As Iverson notes, patients with a history of opioid abuse often have difficulty organizing themselves to act on a list of resources that are provided by the case manager.

Instead of merely handing over a list of resources, case managers should be following the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) protocol.

This includes taking three basic steps:

  • Screen quickly to determine the appropriate level of treatment for an individual
  • Conduct a brief intervention aimed at raising the individual’s awareness of his or her substance use disorder and assess how receptive they are to the idea of change
  • Develop an individualized referral to the treatment option best suited to the patient’s needs

For more information, please see the August issue of Case Management Monthly.

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