UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Case report: acute care management of severe opioid withdrawal with IV fentanyl Azar, Pouya; Westenberg, Jean; Ignaszewski, Martha J.; Wong, James S. H.; Isac, George; Mathew, Nickie; Krausz, Michael, MD, PhD, FRCPc


Background An increasing number of individuals who use drugs in North America are preferentially consuming fentanyl over other opioids. This has significant consequences on the treatment and management of opioid use disorder (OUD) and its concurrent disorders, especially in acute care if opioid requirements are not met. Case presentation We present a patient with severe OUD and daily injection of fentanyl, admitted to hospital for management of acute physical health issues. Due to high opioid requirements and history of patient-initiated discharge, intravenous fentanyl was administered for treatment of opioid withdrawal, and management of pain, which supported continued hospitalization for acute care treatment and aligned with substance use treatment goals. Conclusion This case demonstrates that intravenous fentanyl for management of OUD in hospital can be a feasible approach to meet opioid requirements and avoid fentanyl withdrawal among patients with severe OUD and daily fentanyl use, thereby promoting adherence to medical treatment and reducing the risk of patient-initiated discharge. There is an urgent need to tailor current treatment strategies for individuals who primarily use fentanyl. Carefully designed research is needed to further explore the use of IV fentanyl for acute care management of severe opioid withdrawal in a hospital setting.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)