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A panel convened by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration (SAMHSA) has stopped short of recommending mandatory
electrocardiograms (ECGs) on patients treated with methadone in opioid treatment programs (OTPs). In “QT Interval Screening in Methadone Maintenance Treatment: Report of a SAMHSA Expert Panel,” published November 3 in the Journal of Addictive Diseases, the panel described the process that resulted in the inability to recommend ECG screening for all OTP patients.
The panel, convened initially in 2007, was charged with coming up with recommendations for addressing cardiac risk—specifically, an arrhythmia that can lead
to a dangerous condition known as torsade de pointes (TdP). An erroneous report by this panel on cardiac effects was published—and later retracted—in the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine (see related links). Finally, the case has been closed: no required baseline ECGs on OTP patients. There was no consensus —five panel members voted to recommend baseline ECGs, and four voted against.
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