Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Mental Health and/or Substance Use Services (PA-MHSU) 8: Ambulatory Detoxification Treatment

Detoxification treatment is provided based on the needs of the service recipient.
NA The agency does not provide detoxification treatment.
2020 Edition




Individuals and families who receive Mental Health and/or Substance Use Services improve social, emotional, psychological, cognitive, and family functioning and attain recovery and wellness.
Note: Detoxification can occur at varying levels of intensity.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions: exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented. 
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.

Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  

  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.  
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.  
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Criteria for determining the level of care
  • Sample job descriptions from across relevant job categories
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Clinical/Medical director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Persons served
  • Review case records

PA-MHSU 8.01

Qualified personnel determine the appropriate level of detoxification care and treatment for the individual using diagnostic criteria outlined in clinical decision support tools and clinical practice guidelines.
Examples: Agencies can utilize the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) criteria to determine the appropriate level of care.

PA-MHSU 8.02

Detoxification services include:  
  1. assessment and evaluation; 
  2. monitoring and stabilization; and  
  3. preparation for entry into substance use treatment.

Fundamental Practice

PA-MHSU 8.03

Detoxification treatment is provided by a qualified team of trained and licensed professionals appropriate to the intensity of services offered.
Examples: Agencies providing medically-monitored detoxification may employ an interdisciplinary staff of nurses, counselors, social workers, addiction specialists and/or other health and technical personnel, whom all work under the supervision of a licensed physician.