August 14, 2023

ACEP Innovation & Excellence in Behavioral Health & Addiction Medicine Award 2023

To paraphrase Jerry Lee Lewis, Goodness, Gracious Dr. Roneet Lev is a great ball of fire!

No hyperbole here. Dr. Lev, Past President of California ACEP and longtime Councilor, has been an outstanding and tireless advocate for addiction medicine for over fifteen years.

She was inspired by a bad outcome for a young patient with substance use disorder. She did not just grieve for the patient, she set out to do something about these all-too-frequent bad outcomes. At that time, prescription medication, often from multiple doctors, was the source of substances used inappropriately.  She organized the San Diego medical community to agree that one doctor and one pharmacy should be the providers of controlled substances for each patient. This was a pioneering innovation at the time and was later widely adopted. California ACEP adopted a safe prescribing guideline under her leadership. 

It is very well done, comprehensive, and even has a great tip on parenting. Take a look. It might improve your practice or even your parenting.

She went on to be Chief Medical Officer in The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. While there she worked on Xing the x-waiver, getting insurers to pay for addiction medicine services and ending the opioid prescription crisis among other things. She still managed a few clinical shifts every month.

Dr. Lev has a podcast, High Truths, that educates anyone who wants to listen on substance use disorder. She has interviewed a wide range of experts, patients and families on these podcasts of which there are well over 100 episodes. 

Dr. Lev recently championed a bill that passed in California that requires drug screens to include fentanyl. Patients who are screened can now find out if they were unknowingly exposed to fentanyl. Also, the magnitude of the fentanyl epidemic can now be measured more accurately.

Dr. Fred Dennis, MD, MBA, FACEP and I, among other members of the section were instrumental in the development of this award that Dr. Lev won. This year the section selected Dr. Lev for the award and the ACEP Board concurred. In the past, substance use disorders and behavioral health were not well managed in the emergency department. It was treat and street. A dose of Narcan or a banana bag and out the door when the patient was deemed to safely walk.  Fortunately, emergency medicine is doing much better now, with innovations such as buprenorphine, social workers, telepsychiatry, warm handoffs, Narcan scripts and so on. The purpose of the award is to encourage and recognize the betterment of the treatment of these emergency patients. Dr. Lev is certainly deserving of the award. Please see the interview I did of Dr. Lev about her involvement with addiction medicine on her podcast.

John Bibb, MD, FACEP