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Opioid management strategy decreases admissions in high-utilizing adults with sickle cell disease

Amy Mager, PA-C, MPAS, Kristin Pelot, MSSW, Kathryn Koch, APNP, Lawrence Miller, PsyD, Collin Hubler, BS, Anisah Ndifor, BS, Canice Coan, PharmD, Cynthia Leonard, MSN, Joshua J. Field, MD, MS


Background: A subset of adults with sickle cell disease (SCD) heavily utilizes the emergency department (ED) and hospital. The objective of our study was to determine the efficacy of a multidisciplinary strategy to address unmet needs in highly utilizing adults with SCD.

Methods: In a prospective study, adults with SCD with 10 admissions per year were assessed by a multidisciplinary team for gaps in medical, social, and psychological care. Thereafter, the team decided upon the subject's predominant domain that drove admissions and instituted an interventional plan. All plans included an opioid management strategy. Preintervention and postintervention admission rate, as well as opioid use, was compared.

Results: Twelve subjects were enrolled. Median rate of ED and hospital admissions preintervention was 25 per year. The predominant domains identified were social needs (n = 6), psychological disorder (n = 1), and substance use disorder (n = 5). Multifaceted interventional plans were developed to address a wide range of gaps in care, but an opioid management strategy was the only intervention successfully completed. Even so, when the preintervention versus postintervention admission rate was compared, regardless of the domain, there was a 40 percent decline in hospital admissions (p = 0.03). Consistent with the successful implementation of an opioid management plan, the decrease in admissions was accompanied by a 37 percent decrease in intravenous opioid use (p = 0.02) and 10 percent decrease in oral opioid use (p = 0.04).

Conclusion: An opioid management strategy, as part of a larger effort to improve care for high-utilizing adults with SCD, decreased rate of admissions and opioid use.


sickle cell disease, utilization, opioids, psychological disorder, substance use disorder

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