New guidance to improve support for young people in A&E with alcohol related problems has been published by Public Health England (PHE).
The support pack is aimed at A&E clinicians, hospital managers, substance misuse and young people’s commissioners to help them develop care pathways within A&E and into other services for young people.
It says A&E attendance provides a 'teachable moment' in which a planned response can have a significant impact on the current and future health and wellbeing of the young person. 'Brief interventions' (IBA), clear alcohol care pathways and pathways into wider (non-alcohol-related) children’s services and support should be ensured where appropriate.
The guidance includes a model care pathway for alcohol misusing adolescents (see right) and also covers:
- Understanding levels of unmet need
- Initial screening and referral process
- Information and data sharing
The report recommends that AUDIT-C, a short 3 item assessment tool, should be used to assess young people for alcohol misuse in A&Es. Based on AUDIT-C is states:
The threshold for brief intervention for young people aged 10-16 years should be a score of 3+ (adult score should not be used). The threshold for referral to substance misuse specialist services should be a score of 6+. However, screening results should not replace clinical assessment and judgement and patient preferences.
The pack builds on a 2011 Alcohol Concern briefing which outlined steps A&E departments could take to provide harm reduction to young people who attend hospital as a result of their drinking. See all Young People tagged posts here.