Identification of Emergency Department Patients for Referral to Rapid-Access Addiction Services

In Infographics, Knowledge Translation by Samuel WilsonLeave a Comment

This month, CanadiEM is featuring an article from the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine that looks at substance-related ED presentations and the need for direct referral to a rapid-access addiction services. Recent national data shows that substance-related emergency department visits are rapidly increasing.​1​ Despite this finding, previous studies show that many EDs do not have referral protocols for rapid-access addiction services.​2​

A prospective cohort study was conducted by Hann et al. to better characterize substance-related ED presentations and assessed the need for a rapid-access addiction clinic.​3​ Specifically, the study evaluated whether the ED health care team would have referred a patient to an on-site rapid-access addiction clinic, if one were available.

The results are highlighted in our visual abstract. 458 patient encounters were included in the analysis, of which, the majority (64%) were male. Alcohol was the most commonly reported substance of problematic or high-risk use (60%). The ED health care team indicated “Yes” for rapid-access addiction clinic referral from the ED for 66% of enrolled patients, with a mean of 4.3 patients referred per day during the study period (June to August 2018).

Overall, this study highlights the need for a rapid-access addiction clinic, given that four ED patients would have been referred per day, and potentially benefiting an underserved patient population.

To read the full article, visit


  1. 1.
    Government of Canada . Overview of national data on opioid-related harms and deaths. Published December 12, 2018. Accessed November 31, 2019.
  2. 2.
    Elliott K, W K, Basu A, Sabbatini A. Transitional care clinics for follow-up and primary care linkage for patients discharged from the ED. Am J Emerg Med. 2016;34(7):1230-1235. doi:10.1016/j.ajem.2016.03.029
  3. 3.
    Hann J, Wu H, Gauri A, et al. Identification of emergency department patients for referral to rapid-access addiction services. CJEM. 2020;22(2):170-177. doi:10.1017/cem.2019.453

Samuel Wilson

Sam is a fourth-year medical student from the University of Ottawa. He is a CanadiEM Infographic editor interested in EM, PoCUS, medical teaching, and exploring the outdoors.

Kimberly Vella

Kim Vella is a senior medical student at Queen’s University. Prior to medical school, she completed at Master of Science at Dalhousie University. She is interested in medical education.