Table of Contents
ISRN Emergency Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 926749, 7 pages
Research Article

Detecting Substance Abuse in the Emergency Department: A 10-Year Comparative Study

1Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Murcia, Campus de Espinardo, 30100 Murcia, Spain
2Hospital Virgen de La Arrixaca, Carretera de Cartagena s.n., El Palmar, 30120 Murcia, Spain
35841 S. Maryland, MC3077, The University of Chicago, IL 60637, USA

Received 19 June 2013; Accepted 14 August 2013

Academic Editors: S. Di Saverio, L. V. Downey, and M. Mohsin

Copyright © 2013 Fernando Espi Martinez et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Aims. We have retrospectively analyzed the variations in the clinical profile of patients with a positive consumption of alcohol and/or drugs of abuse that have been confirmed and treated in the Emergency Department of a Virgen de La Arrixaca University Hospital in Murcia (Spain) after a period of 10 years. Secondly, we have assessed if the use of urine toxicology screen tests had any influence on the improvement of the management and/or referral of these patients to specialized services from the Emergency Department or at the time of discharge from hospital, regardless of the specialist or service where they had been treated. Method. 415 patients were selected in the year 2000 and 452 in the year 2010 who had tested positive for alcohol and drugs, assessing the reason for consultation, specific symptoms, drug used, record, diagnosis, and patient management. Results. The most frequent reasons for going to the Emergency Department was common illness, mainly psychiatric disorders, and the type of drug taken, alcohol. There were no significant differences between both groups, but approximately 50% of the patients were not referred for treatment of the abuse or dependency. Conclusions. The clinical profession should consider measures to improve detection and referral of patients with substance abuse disorders.