Date of Publication



Purpose: Universal screening and brief intervention with referral to treatment (SBIRT) has become best practice for emergency departments (EDs) over the last two decades. Given the prevalence of alcohol use and the subsequent health impacts of drinking, EDs are well positioned to be on the front line of screening for risky drinking. The available literature is clear in its consensus that universal screening for alcohol use in the ED is critical to identifying people at high risk for drinking and improving health outcomes.

Aims: This project aimed to implement an SBIRT process in a critical access ED. To achieve this global aim, the project team developed an SBIRT process and educated nurses and providers on its use in the department.

Methods: The project team performed a two-month retrospective chart review determining the baseline rate of alcohol screening in the department. An SBIRT process was implemented in the unit. After implementation of the SBIRT process, a two-month chart review measured staff usage of the new procedure.

Results: Over the two-month implementation period, the percentage of patients in the ED screened for alcohol use increased from an average of sixty-five percent before the intervention to seventy-nine percent after.

Conclusions: Increased alcohol screening for patients in a critical access ED is possible with education and buy in from clinical staff. The existing electronic screener tool was widely preferred to the newer, paper AUDIT_C tool. Embedding the new screener tool in the electronic chart may be a way to increase convenience and therefore its adoption.

Keywords: SBIRT, alcohol use disorder, emergency department alcohol screening.

Document Type