Predictors of Escalation to Intensive Care Unit Level of Care Among Admissions for Alcohol Withdrawal

Link to article at PubMed

J Community Hosp Intern Med Perspect. 2023 Sep 2;13(5):8-14. doi: 10.55729/2000-9666.1241. eCollection 2023.


According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 14.5 million people ages 12 and older had alcohol abuse disorder. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) can be defined as a collection of physical symptoms experienced due to abrupt cessation of alcohol after long-term dependence. In instances where regular inpatient management fails to control AWS symptoms, patients are shifted to intensive care units (ICUs) for closer monitoring and prevention of life-threatening complications like withdrawal seizures and delirium tremens (DTs), labeled as severe alcohol withdrawal syndrome (SAWS). Although this represents a significant healthcare burden, minimal studies have been conducted to determine objective predictors. In this study, we aim to determine the effect of patient demographics, socio-economic status, biochemical parameters, and clinical factors on the need for escalation to ICU level of care among admissions for AWS. Our study showed that factors such as a history of DTs or alcohol-related seizures, the initial protocol of management, degree of reported alcohol usage, activation of rapid response teams, mean corpuscular value, alcohol level on admission, highest Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment Alcohol Revised (CIWA-Ar) scored during the hospital stay, and the total amount of sedatives used were significantly associated with escalation to ICU level of care. Clinicians must use these objective parameters to identify high-risk patients and intervene early. We encourage further studies to establish a scoring algorithm incorporating biochemical parameters to tailor management algorithms that might better suit high-risk patients.

PMID:37868680 | PMC:PMC10589036 | DOI:10.55729/2000-9666.1241

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