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EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT: What is a warm handoff?

Reading Hospital (West Reading, PA) implemented a program in early 2016 referred to as a “warm handoff” intended to help patients who present in the emergency department with heroin or other opioid addiction.  The idea is to first care for whatever caused the patient to come to the ED and then connect the patient with a substance abuse treatment program.  If the patient is interested in accepting the warm handoff, the ED staff makes a connection to appropriate mental health staff.

The hospital website indicates that the Reading Hospital is one of the busiest EDs in Pennsylvania, with over 107,000 ED visits per year.  The warm handoff program is currently operating at about one patient every two days … so 182 warm handoff patients per year, by my calculation.  Or, 182 patients/107,000 visits = 170 warm handoff patients/100,000 ED visits, again by my calculation.

Sources:

Sandel, K. (2016, May 18). What is the ‘warm hand-off’ and how can it help Pennsylvania’s opioid abuse crisis? Pennsylvania Medical Society Quality and Value Blog. https://www.pamedsoc.org/tools-you-can-use/topics/quality-and-value-blog/BlogMay1816

Warm handoffs connect substance abuse patients to vital services. (2016, Oct.). ED Management, 28(10), 118-119. Click here for publisher website: https://www.ahcmedia.com/articles/138640  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

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