CESAR Awarded Grant to Expand Proven Drug Screening Protocols
Governor Larry Hogan and Maryland’s Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC) awarded UMD’s Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) a $396,090 competitive grant to support data collection and rapid fentanyl testing in Maryland hospitals.
This was one of the largest grants awarded to any of the successful applicants in this round of distribution.
CESAR’s Emergency Department Drug Surveillance (EDDS) system is active at 39 hospitals nationwide. EDDS obtains these hospitals’ de-identified information on patient drug test results quarterly. Upon joining EDDS, hospitals can submit up to 150 specimens for expanded retesting for approximately 500 substances. Most hospitals use small testing panels capable of detecting only five to eight drugs. For the new statewide Maryland system, EDDS will analyze drug test results using electronic health records (EHRs) and conduct rapid fentanyl testing on urine specimens collected from emergency department patients in approximately 20 hospitals across Maryland.
CESAR’s research has shown that monitoring based solely on clinical notes rather than urine testing fails to provide a picture of drugs actually in the patients’ systems; doctors usually can’t discern this from symptoms alone, and the realities of street drug sales mean users might not even be aware of what they’ve taken.
The EDDS pilot study was conducted with seven Maryland hospitals, with support from the University of Maryland’s MPowering the State initiative. EDDS has gained support and expanded consistently over the years, and will now be able to pursue its longstanding goal of launching a statewide system.
“Patients, first responders, doctors, nurses, and many other people will benefit from the expansion of this program. We’re going to have more information to help medical personnel accurately diagnose and treat overdoses and related problems, leading to better patient outcomes,” said CESAR Director Dr. Eric Wish.
CESAR’s EDDS program has made a difference not only in Maryland, but in other states as well, including California and Utah.
Dr. Roneet Lev, a collaborating emergency physician in San Diego explains that “EDDS has been an important data tool driving legislative action for California. Documenting the unaccounted fentanyl drug screen in emergency departments across the nation was a call for action. If hospitals test for PCP and cocaine, there is no excuse for not testing for fentanyl.” Dr. Lev and her colleagues used data from EDDS to successfully pursue legislation mandating fentanyl testing in hospitals in California for all patients receiving drug screening as a diagnostic procedure.
Dr. Wish and his collaborators say they hope the program will continue to expand, and that more comprehensive drug testing, including for fentanyl, will become a standard and universal procedure of emergency care in the future.
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