Mass. General to screen all patients for substance abuse

Doctors can put together a "bedside intervention" if needed

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts General Hospital says it will soon start questioning all patients about their alcohol and illegal drug use, no matter what their reason for visiting.

The program scheduled to start this fall is part of a broader plan to improve addiction treatment at the Boston hospital and its community health centers.

Caregivers will ask patients how often they have had six or more drinks on one occasion, and whether they have used an illegal drug in the past year.

If the questioning reveals a possible addiction, doctors can summon a team to conduct a “bedside intervention” and, if needed, arrange treatment.

MGH officials tell The Boston Globe that a study found that patients with identified substance abuse disorders had longer stays and higher readmission rates, boosting the cost of care.

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