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Baltimore ranks city's hospitals for best practices in opioid addiction treatment

Baltimore leaders ranked the city’s 11 hospitals this week for best practices in responding to the opioid crisis.

The hospitals were ranked from level one, for the highest standard of care, to three. Both the University of Maryland Medical Center and its midtown campus earned the highest ranking, while other hospitals scored lower.


The city established the Levels of Care initiative earlier this year to identify facilities that provide comprehensive treatment and prevention of opioid abuse. The hospitals were scored on factors including their ability to treat patients who screen positive for a substance use disorder, distribute naloxone and ensure physicians are prescribing opioids carefully.

Because hospitals play a role in affecting the health outcomes of patients who have or develop opioid addictions, identifying those with best practices for treating such patients is one more tack the city is taking to combat the opioid epidemic.


“Hospitals alone cannot end this epidemic, but it cannot be ended without them,” said Mary Beth Haller, Baltimore’s interim health commissioner, in a statement. “Addiction is a disease and treatment exists. Today, hospitals have shown they are willing and able to be a part of this fight. They are helping to make Baltimore City a national model for treating addiction alongside every other disease.”

The city’s hospitals submitted information for the initiative in August and the rankings were released Wednesday.

As a baseline, all level-three certified hospitals must screen emergency department patients for substance use disorders; have emergency department protocols that include referring patients with substance use disorders to treatment programs; prescribe naloxone to emergency department patients with a high risk of opioid overdose; promote guidelines for judicious prescribing of opioid pain relievers; and provide information about drug storage and disposal for patients who are prescribed opioids, according to guidelines from the health department.

To achieve a level-two rating, hospitals must employ those protocols, as well as offer peer-recovery services to emergency department patients; screen admitted patients for substance use disorder; prescribe naloxone to admitted patients at high risk for opioid overdoes; stock medication for admitted patients with substance abuse disorder; monitor doctors’ adherence to prescription guidelines and address cases of careless prescribing.

Hospitals with level-one certification represent those with the most comprehensive response to the opioid crisis. They must carry out all the requirements of level two and three hospitals, stock at least one formulation of each medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat opioid use disorder; offer peer recovery support for admitted patients; dispense naloxone to both emergency department patients and admitted patients at high risk for opioid overdose; screen patients in outpatient clinics for substance use disorder; and offer medication-assisted treatment in outpatient clinics, according to the health department.

Here’s how the city ranked Baltimore’s hospitals:

Level one:

» University of Maryland Medical Center


» University of Maryland Medical Center-Midtown

Level two:

» Johns Hopkins Hospital

» Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

» MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital

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» MedStar Harbor Hospital


» MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

Level three:

» Bon Secours Hospital

» Sinai Hospital

» Mercy Medical Center

» Saint Agnes Hospital