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Am Surg. 2013 Dec;79(12):1289-94.

Does alcohol intoxication protect patients from severe injury and reduce hospital mortality? The association of alcohol consumption with the severity of injury and survival in trauma patients.

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Department of Trauma and Emergency Surgery, China Medical University Hospital, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Alcohol-related motor vehicle collisions are a major cause of mortality in trauma patients. This prospective observational study investigated the influence of antecedent alcohol use on outcomes in trauma patients who survived to reach the hospital. From 2005 to 2011, all patients who were older than 18 years and were admitted as a result of motor vehicle crashes were included. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was routinely measured for each patient on admission. Patients were divided into four groups based on their BAC level, which included nondrinking, BAC less than 100, BAC 100 to 200, and BAC 200 mg/dL or greater. Patient demographics, physical status and injury severity on admission, length of hospital stay, and outcome were compared between the groups. Odds ratios of having a severe injury, prolonged hospital stay, and mortality were estimated. Patients with a positive BAC had an increased risk of sustaining craniofacial and thoracoabdominal injuries. Odds ratios of having severe injuries (Injury Severity Score [ISS] 16 or greater) and a prolonged hospital stay were also increased. However, for those patients whose ISS was 16 or greater and who also had a brain injury, risk of fatality was significantly reduced if they were intoxicated (BAC 200 mg/dL or greater) before injury. Alcohol consumption does not protect patients from sustaining severe injuries nor does it shorten the length of hospital stay. However, there were potential survival benefits related to alcohol consumption for patients with brain injuries but not for those without brain injuries. Additional research is required to investigate the mechanism of this association further.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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