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Alcohol. 2012 Nov;46(7):681-6. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2012.07.002. Epub 2012 Jul 21.

Alcohol intoxication in road traffic accidents leads to higher impact speed difference, higher ISS and MAIS, and higher preclinical mortality.

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  • 1Trauma Department, Hannover Medical School, Germany.


Alcohol is one of the most important personal risk factors for serious and fatal injuries, contributing to approximately one third of all deaths from accidents. It is also described that alcohol intoxication leads to a higher mortality in the clinical course. In this study, we hypothesized that alcohol intoxication leads to different accident kinematics, a higher ISS (Injury Severity Score), and higher preclinical mortality compared to sober patients. A technical and medical investigation of alcohol intoxicated road users was performed on the scene of the crash and at the primary admitting hospital. Alcohol testing was performed with either breath alcohol tests or measurement of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in a standard laboratory test. Between 1999 and 2010, 37,635 road traffic accidents were evaluated by the Accident Research Unit. Overall 20,741 patients were injured, 2.3% of the patients were killed. Among the injured patients, 2.2% with negative BAC were killed, compared to 4.6% fatal injuries in patients with a positive BAC (p < 0.0001). Of the patients with a positive BAC, 8.0% were severely injured, compared to 3.6% in the BAC negative group (p < 0.0001). Regarding the relative speed at impact (Δv for motorized drivers, vehicle collision speed for pedestrians and bikers), there was a significant higher difference for BAC positive patients (30 ± 20) compared to the BAC negative patients (25 ± 19, p < 0.0001). Alcohol intoxication in trauma patients leads to higher preclinical mortality, higher impact speed difference, and higher injury severity. The subgroup analysis for different alcohol concentrations shows no difference in ISS, MAIS, and relative speed, but a correlation of increasing age of patients with higher alcohol concentrations.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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