Determine the rates of screening for substance use in pregnant women versus non-pregnant women attending the emergency department (ED).
We captured all ED visits by women of childbearing age (12-50 years in our study) over a 5-year period (2012-2017) (n = 72,752) from a local community hospital. The 2742 pregnant women were then matched by ethnicity, marital status, and arrival method to 9888 non-pregnant women. We then compared rates of screening for substance use by pregnancy status stratifying by age and diagnosis.
The proportion of non-pregnant women who were screened for substance use was 3.66% compared to 1.90% of pregnant women, yielding an odds ratio (OR) of 1.96 (95% CI = 1.44 to 2.67). We then stratified the results by presenting complaint and age. Non-pregnant women 14 to 19 and 30 to 34 had the highest likelihood for screening (OR > 3.0). The presenting complaint showed little effect on screening.
Pregnant women were screened only 51% as often as non-pregnant women for substance use in the ED. These results are of particular concern as we continue to see a rise in substance use during pregnancy which results in an increased burden on the healthcare system and society. This study replicates a previous study showing that the rates of screening are lower for pregnant women than non-pregnant women presenting to the ED. Earlier recognition of substance use offers increased opportunities for intervention and prevention of adverse outcomes from substance use during both the current pregnancy and future pregnancies.