Does Alcohol Intoxication Alter the Assessment and Outcome of 'Observation-Status' Trauma Patients?

McCadams, Joseph S.; Daley, Brian J.; Enderson, Blaine L.
November 2001
American Surgeon;Nov2001, Vol. 67 Issue 11, p1110
Academic Journal
We assessed the effect of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) on the evaluation, outcome, and hospital charges of our observation-status trauma patient population. We conducted a retrospective study over 18 months; any patient initially admitted with <24-hour observation status, Glasgow Coma Score of 15, and negative drug screen was eligible. Patients were divided on the basis of BAC (BAC+ = >80 mg/dL; BAC- = <80 mg/dL). Two hundred twenty-six patients were observed during the study (2765 admissions). For the 66 BAC+ patients (range 90-392 mg/dL) there was a strong male predominance. There was no difference in diagnostic evaluation schema, delayed diagnosis, complications, cost, or conversions to full admission between the groups. We conclude that evaluation, outcome, and charges of observation trauma patients are the same regardless of BAC. Intoxication did not mask injury; therefore BAC+ patients do not require observation on the sole basis of intoxication if their evaluation is otherwise negative.


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