Illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) is increasing in international drug supply chains, and IMF-related opioid overdose deaths are rising in North America. Hospitalizations among patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) are also rising; and, hospitalized patients are at increased risk of overdose and death following hospital discharge. Hospitalization is a key opportunity to engage patients with OUD. Addiction consult services (ACS) can provide effective treatment for patients hospitalized with OUD. This study aims to estimate the effect of increasing IMF contamination on drug-related death among patients hospitalized with OUD, and simulate the role of ACS expansion to mitigate these effects.
We used a Markov model to mirror care systems for adult patients hospitalized with OUD in Oregon, from the time of hospital admission through 12-months post-discharge, and simulated patients through modeled care systems to evaluate the expansion of Addiction Consult Services in the context of increasing IMF in the drug supply.
In a simulated cohort of 10,000 patients, we estimate that 537 patients would die from drug-related causes within 12-months of hospital discharge. In the context of increased IMF in the drug supply, this estimate increased to 913. ACS referral at baseline was 4%; increasing ACS referral to accommodate 10%, 50%, or 100% of hospitalized OUD patients in the state reduces drug-related deaths to 904, 849, and 780, respectively. The number needed to treat for ACS to avoid one drug-related death in the context of increased IMF was 73.
Hospitals should expand interventions to help reduce IMF-related opioid overdoses, including through implementation of ACS. In the context of rising IMF-related deaths, ACS expansion could help connect patients to treatment, offer harm reduction interventions, or both, which can help reduce the risk of opioid-related death.

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