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A lack of professional guidelines for the treatment of drug addicts and alcoholics

Important national guidelines and guides are lacking for interdisciplinary specialist treatment for drug addicts and alcoholics. Many patients at private institutions have not had an individual plan prepared. The shortcomings identified could have serious consequences for a vulnerable group of patients. - A targeted effort is required to put in place services that ensure that these patients receive the treatment to which they are entitled, says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.
Published 4/29/2010 12:30 PM

Document 3:7 (2009–2010) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation into follow-up and quality in private institutions in interdisciplinary specialist treatment for drug addicts and alcoholics was submitted to the Storting on 29 April 2010.

The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation shows that important national guidelines and guides are lacking for the design of services in the interdisciplinary specialist treatment of addicts. According to the Ministry of Health and Care Services, guidelines and guides will not be available for all areas in this field until 2015. The lack of guidelines and guides means that the regional health authorities have no national requirements to help them to design services for the treatment of addiction. The design of these services will therefore be based less on documented knowledge, which could mean that it is not the most expedient treatment services that are established.

There is no systematic review by the regional health authorities of quality systems at private institutions engaged in interdisciplinary specialist treatment for drug addicts and alcoholics. There are shortcomings in many private institutions’ internal control systems. For example, several institutions have no procedures to prevent patients from discontinuing their treatment before it has been completed. Some institutions also fail to check how they comply with their own control systems.

Between 69 and 79 per cent of patients in private institutions have not had an individual plan prepared for them. The investigation shows that many of these patients wish to have such plans. The contents of some of the plans that have been drawn up are inadequate in relation to the requirements set out in guidelines. Examples include cases where the patient's goals, resources and service needs have not been documented in the plan, or where information about the discharge of patients is lacking. - This could be a threat to patients’ rights and result in failure to achieve the goal of the treatment, says Mr Kosmo. - It also complicates cooperation between service providers.

The Ministry of Health and Care Services has made it a requirement for 2010 that the regional health authorities increase the percentage of patients with individual plans in the interdisciplinary specialist treatment for drug addicts and alcoholics. The Ministry agrees with the Office of the Auditor General's description of this field. In its response, the Ministry points out that efforts are being made to improve the services offered to patients in interdisciplinary specialist treatment for drug addicts and alcoholics.

The document can be downloaded from the link on the right.

The deferral of public access to documents prepared by or for the Office of the Auditor General in connection with Document No 3:7 (2009-2010), cf. the Act relating to the Office of the Auditor General section 18 second paragraph, is hereby set aside.

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