The Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington, part of the president’s cabinet, recently recognized Scripps Mercy Hospital’s Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral (SBIR) program for its excellence in its yearly strategy report. SBIR for alcohol and drug use has been provided to over 70,000 patients in the Emergency Department and Trauma Service at Scripps Mercy Hospital since 1999. This brief and effective counseling session helps patients understand the negative role of alcohol and drugs in their lives and encourages them to change their behavior.
Scripps Mercy is one of the first hospitals to adopt this program which uses health educators to interview and counsel patients during their stays in the emergency department or trauma service. The combination of a short questionnaire and teaching session has been proven to reduce patients’ alcohol and other drug use, reduce their risk of injuries, and improve their health.
The health educators work closely with Scripps Mercy’s doctors and nurses to incorporate this important service into the work-up and treatment of every patient who comes to the hospital for emergency and trauma care. All the health educators are bilingual in English and Spanish and provide translation for Latino patients who do not speak English. This has improved communication and has increased satisfaction for both patients and staff. The Scripps Mercy Emergency Department and Trauma Services regard the SBIR health educators as important members of their teams.