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Extreme Blood Alcohol Level Is Associated with Increased Resource Use in Trauma Patients

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This study aims to examine resource utilization and outcomes of trauma patients with extremely high blood alcohol concentrations. We hypothesized that higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) predicts greater resource utilization and poorer outcomes. A retrospective analysis was performed on trauma patients admitted to an urban Level I trauma center over a 5-year period. Admission BAC categories were constructed using standard laboratory norms and legal definitions. Demographic data, premorbid conditions, injury severity scores (ISS), resource utilization (intensive care unit (ICU) admission rates/length of stay, total hospital days, use of consultants), and mortality were analyzed. Positive BAC on admission was associated with increased ISS (P < 0.001), length of stay (P < 0.003), and total ICU days (P < 0.001). Increased BAC admission level of patients was associated with a decreased ISS score (P = 0.0073), a higher probability of ICU admission (P = 0.0013), and an increased percentage of ICU days (P = 0.001). A positive BAC at admission was a significant predictor of both ICU admission and mortality (odds ratios 1.72 and 1.27, respectively). This study demonstrates that a positive BAC is associated with increased ISS, increased resource utilization, and worsened outcomes. Extreme levels of BAC are associated with increased resource utilization despite lower injury severity scores.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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