If you’re using, or plan to use, Soberlink as part of your clinical practice, it may relieve you to know that you won’t have to do a lot of guesswork to get started. A group of doctors and treatment industry experts were brought together to determine the most effective way to use Soberlink in a clinical setting.
In this series, we’ll look into the key decisions made by that expert panel and how those decisions could affect the way you implement Soberlink with your patients. One element of the panel’s best-use recommendations is what to do in the event of a missed test.
“Any instance of missing a test should be treated as a slip or relapse.”
A missed test is a scheduled test that is not submitted within the required test window. The consensus of the expert panel agreed to a test schedule of 2-3 tests per day with a 2 hour test window. This type of schedule was determined by the panel to be convenient enough for a patient for the recommended 12 months of use in continued care.
It is important to note that missed tests happen quite often and there can be a number of reasons for an excused missed test. A patient may have forgotten their device at home, or were unable to break away from their schedule to submit a test.
While a missed test event should be treated with some concern, the approach should include some type of clinical intervention instead of jumping to a hasty conclusion.
We’ve discussed before that Soberlink should ideally be used as a tool to support long-term recovery and not be used to create extra anxiety. Orchestrating a system of hasty conclusions and suspicion, rather than clinical evaluation, can create a hostile environment that we are trying to avoid.
It may be more valuable to think of instances of missed tests as opportunities to reevaluate patient and program needs, request additional testing, or intervene before a slip becomes a full-blown relapse.
However, this is not to say that there shouldn’t be any consequences. Missing tests are serious challenges to any type of monitoring program. But keep in mind that holding patients accountable with agreed-upon consequences, and orchestrating a reactionary system of punishment are two very different things.
The Expert Panel’s Recommendation
The panel came to unanimous consensus that missed test events should be dealt with using clinical intervention rather than immediate consequences.
Because these instances could be caused by any number of circumstances, further evaluation of the situation is almost always warranted. Following a missed test, the panel recommends that a reevaluation take place as soon as possible. The majority of the panel even suggested that a full reassessment of the patient’s status be conducted, including a face-to-face meeting with the patient and approved contacts.
The panel further recognized that though these instances are serious and should be dealt with swiftly and thoroughly, they are not grounds for treatment program dismissal.
The Bottom Line
The experts are unanimous that missed tests should be treated with a simple phone call or a clinical evaluation before they are treated with any rash conclusions or dismissal.
How to Use Soberlink Four-Part Series
- Part 1: Test Frequency and Program Duration
- Part 2: Random vs. Scheduled Testing
- Part 3: Responding to a Missed Test
- Part 4: The Appropriate Clinical Response to Positive Tests
About The Expert Panel & Consensus Paper
The expert panel was comprised of physicians and experts with extensive experience and current knowledge of alcohol use disorders and the addiction treatment industry. The expert panel was assembled to discuss and reach consensus on the best use of remote monitoring in a recovery setting. A paper of their findings was written and published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. All decisions made by the expert panel were reached by organic consensus and have been determined to be the absolute best practices when using the Soberlink alcohol monitoring.
About the Author
Soberlink supports accountability for sobriety through a comprehensive alcohol monitoring system. Combining a breathalyzer with wireless connectivity, the portable design and technology includes facial recognition, tamper detection and real-time reporting. Soberlink proves sobriety with reliability to foster trust and peace of mind.