The COVID-19 pandemic led to disruptions in care for vulnerable patients, in particular patients with opioid use disorder (OUD). We aimed to examine OUD-related ED visits before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and determine if patient characteristics for OUD-related ED visits changed in the context of the pandemic. We examined all visits to the three public safety net hospital EDs in Los Angeles County from April 2019 to February 2021. We performed interrupted time series analyses examining OUD-related ED visits from Period 1, April 2019 to February 2020, compared with Period 2, April 2020 to February 2021, by race/ethnicity and payor group. We considered OUD-related ED visits as those which included any of the following: discharge diagnosis related to OUD, patients administered buprenorphine or naloxone while in the ED, and visits where a patient was prescribed buprenorphine or naloxone on discharge. There were 5919 OUD-related ED visits in the sample. OUD-related visits increased by 4.43 (2.82–6.03) per 1000 encounters from the pre-COVID period (9.47 per 1000 in February 2020) to the COVID period (13.90 per 1000 in April 2020). This represented an increase of 0.41/1000 by white patients, 0.92/1000 by black patients, and 1.83/1000 by Hispanic patients. We found increases in OUD-related ED visits among patients with Medicaid managed care of 2.23/1000 and in LA County safety net patients by 3.95/1000 ED visits. OUD-related ED visits increased during the first year of the COVID pandemic. These increases were significant among black, white, and Hispanic patients, patients with Medicaid managed care, and LA County Safety net patients. These data suggest public emergency departments served as a stopgap for patients suffering from OUD in Los Angeles County during the pandemic and can be utilized to guide preventative interventions in vulnerable populations.
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Johnson, E., Axeen, S., Vosooghi, A., Lam, C. N., Bluthenthal, R., & Schneberk, T. (2023, March). Interrupted Time Series Analysis: Patient Characteristics and Rates of Opioid-Use-Disorder-Related Emergency Department Visits in the Los Angeles County Public Hospital System during COVID-19. In Healthcare (Vol. 11, No. 7, p. 979). MDPI.