Unplanned alcohol withdrawal: a survey of consecutive admissions to an acute medical unit in 2010 and 2011.

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Unplanned alcohol withdrawal: a survey of consecutive admissions to an acute medical unit in 2010 and 2011.

QJM. 2013 Jan;106(1):43-9

Authors: Husain OM, Lynas PS, Totty JP, Williams K, Waring WS

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Alcohol-related presentations to hospital have been increasing in the UK in recent years, including the occurrence of acute withdrawal. This study sought to better characterize the clinical features, patterns of treatment and outcomes in this patient group.
METHODS: Patients admitted to the Acute Medical Unit of York Hospital due to acute alcohol withdrawal are normally treated according to a protocol that involves both fixed-dose and symptom-triggered drug administration. Admissions between 2010 and 2011 inclusive were studied.
RESULTS: There were 211 admission episodes solely due to acute alcohol withdrawal, involving 127 patients (97 men, 76.4%) with median age of 45 years (interquartile range: 39-52 years). There was a high prevalence of depression (34%), alcoholic liver disease (22%) and drug misuse (12%). Total dose of chlordiazepoxide varied between 0 and 610 mg and tapered rapidly after the first day of admission. Vitamin supplements were administered to >90% of patients, including parenteral and oral in 74%, parenteral alone in 9% and oral alone in 9%. A specialist alcohol nurse reviewed patients while in hospital in 40% of cases. Approximately one-third of patients had multiple admissions for alcohol withdrawal during the study period.
CONCLUSION: A high prevalence of physical and mental health disorders was observed. The local policy permitted high initial chlordiazepoxide doses and prompt downward titration, with a broad range of doses between individuals. Approximately 10% required no specific therapy, and there may be opportunities for developing alternative pathways for delivery of care in an ambulatory setting for these patients.

PMID: 23019589 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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