Background: National guidelines recommend screening all trauma patients for drug and alcohol use beginning at age 12, but no national data have examined rates of screening or positive results in this population. Methods: We examined national testing rates and results among all trauma patients under 21 years old in the 2017 American College of Surgeons Trauma Quality Programs (TQP) database. Results: Of a cohort of n = 157,450 pediatric and adolescent trauma patients, n = 45,443 (28.9%) were screened, and n = 16,662 (36.7%) of those had a positive result. While both testing and positive results increased with age, testing rates were only 61.7% by age 20 and the prevalence of positive results was significant even at younger ages. Cannabinoids were the most commonly detected substance, followed by alcohol, and then opioids. Conclusions: These national data support the need for further efforts to increase screening rates and provide structured interventions to mitigate the consequences of substance abuse. Impact: These data provide the first national evidence of underutilization of drug and alcohol screening in pediatric and adolescent trauma patients, with substantial rates of positive screens among those tested.Cannabinoids were the most commonly detected substance, followed by alcohol and then opioids.These data should guide physicians’ and policymakers’ efforts to improve screening in this high-risk population, which will amplify the potential benefits of using the trauma admission as a critical opportunity to intervene with structured programs to mitigate the consequences of substance abuse.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health