Premature discharges of alcohol or opioid detoxification in-patients, service improvement

Changing futures: premature discharges of alcohol or opioid detoxification in-patients, service improvement, The Psychiatrist (2010) 34: 200-203

Mark Parry is Consultant Psychiatrist in Addictions, Drug and Alcohol Specialist Service (West), Reading

Nicholas Woodthorpe is Specialty Registrar in Old Age Psychiatry (ST6), Oxford Rotational Training Scheme in Psychiatry

Priyanthi Gunawardena is Locum Staff Grade Psychiatrist, Central and Northwest Mental Health NHS Trust.


Aims and method We retrospectively audited premature discharges of in-patients undergoing alcohol or opioid detoxification. Recommendations for good practice aimed at reducing premature discharge rates were implemented, following which a prospective audit was completed.

Results The retrospective phase of the audit cycle showed a premature discharge rate of 30.8%, compared with a rate of 13.2% for the prospective phase. The difference in these rates is both clinically and statistically significant at the 5% level, with Fisher’s exact test producing a two-sided P = 0.0119.

Clinical implications Implementing good practice guidelines improved outcomes, with more patients successfully completing detoxifications and a more effective use of resources.

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