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Admission to acute care hospitals for adolescent substance abuse: a national descriptive analysis

Author(s): Chisolm Deena | Kelleher Kelly

Journal: Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy
ISSN 1747-597X

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 17;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Abstract Background Use of alcohol and illicit drugs by adolescents remains a problem in the U.S. Case identification and early treatment can occur within a broad variety of healthcare and non-healthcare settings, including acute care hospitals. The objective of this study is to describe the extent and nature of adolescent admissions to the acute inpatient setting for substance abuse (SA). We use the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) 2000 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Kids Inpatient Database (HCUP-KID) which includes over 2.5 million admissions for youth age 20 and under to 2,784 hospitals in 27 states in the year 2000. Specifically, this analysis estimates national number of admissions, mean total charges, and mean lengths of stay for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 admitted to an acute care hospital for the following diagnostic categories from the AHRQ's Clinical Classifications Software categories: "alcohol-related mental disorders" and "substance-related mental disorders". Frequency and percentage of total admissions were calculated for demographic variables of age, gender and income and for hospital characteristic variables of urban/rural designation and children's hospital designation. Results SA admissions represented 1.25 percent of adolescent admissions to acute care hospitals. Nearly 90 percent of the admission occurred in non-Children's hospitals. Most were for drug dependence (38%) or non-dependent use of alcohol or drugs (35%). Costs were highest for drug dependence admissions. Nearly half of admissions had comorbid mental health diagnoses. Higher rates of admission were seen in boys, in older adolescents, and in "self-pay" patients. Alcohol and drug rehabilitation/detoxification, alone or in combination with psychological and psychiatric evaluation and therapy, was documented for 38 percent of admissions. Over 50 percent of cases had no documentation of treatment specific to substance use behavior. Conclusion General acute care hospitals have a significant and important opportunity to recognize, treat, and refer adolescents with substance abuse problems. These results suggest that inpatient facilities should develop and implement policies and processes to ensure that adolescent substance abusers admitted to their institutions receive appropriate care during the admission and appropriate referral to community care resources.
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