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Original article

Vol. 144 No. 3132 (2014)

Admissions of patients with alcohol intoxication in the Emergency Department: a growing phenomenon

  • Nicolas Bertholet
  • Angéline Adam
  • Mohamed Faouzi
  • Olivier Boulat
  • Bertrand Yersin
  • Jean-Bernard Daeppen
  • David Clerc
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2014;144:w13982


QUESTION UNDER STUDY: To investigate the change over time in the number of ED admissions with positive blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and to evaluate predictors of BAC level.

METHODS: We conducted a single site retrospective study at the ED of a tertiary referral hospital (western part of Switzerland) and obtained all the BAC performed from 2002 to 2011. We determined the proportion of ED admissions with positive BAC (number of positive BAC/number of admissions). Regression models assessed trends in the proportion of admissions with positive BAC and the predictors of BAC level among patients with positive BAC.

RESULTS: A total of 319,489 admissions were recorded and 20,021 BAC tests were performed, of which 14,359 were positive, divided 34.5% female and 65.5% male. The mean (SD) age was 41.7(16.8), and the mean BAC was 2.12(1.04) permille (g of ethanol/liter of blood). An increase in the number of positive BAC was observed, from 756 in 2002 to 1,819 in 2011. The total number of admissions also increased but less: 1.2 versus 2.4 times more admissions with positive BAC. Being male was independently associated with a higher (+0.19 permille) BAC, as was each passing year (+0.03). A significant quadratic association with age indicated a maximum BAC at age 53.

CONCLUSION: We observed an increase in the percentage of admissions with positive BAC that was not limited to younger individuals. Given the potential consequences of alcohol intoxication, and the large burden imposed on ED teams, communities should be encouraged to take measures aimed at reducing alcohol intoxication.


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