Implementation of a Protocol Using the 5-Item Brief Alcohol Withdrawal Scale for Treatment of Severe Alcohol Withdrawal in Intensive Care Units

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: There is variation in the treatment of patients with severe alcohol withdrawal and a need for effective protocols. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the implementation of a symptom-triggered benzodiazepine protocol using the 5-item Brief Alcohol Withdrawal Scale (BAWS) for treatment of alcohol withdrawal in intensive care units (ICUs). Methods: This retrospective study included admissions to ICUs of 2 hospitals over 6 months who had an alcohol withdrawal protocol ordered and experienced severe withdrawal. Records were reviewed to collect demographic data, benzodiazepine exposure, duration of treatment, and withdrawal severity. Results: The protocol was ordered and implemented in 279 admissions; 48 (17.9%) had severe withdrawal defined as a BAWS of 6 or more. The majority of the 48 patients were from the emergency department (79.2%); mean hospital length of stay was 11.2 days and mean ICU stay 6.6 days; 31.3% required mechanical ventilation. A little more than half were treated only with the protocol (53.2%); 25.0% received additional benzodiazepines, 20.8% dexmedetomidine, 10.4% propofol, 25.0% antipsychotics and 2.0% phenobarbital. Conclusion: Among ICU patients treated for alcohol withdrawal with a symptom-triggered benzodiazepine protocol using a novel 5-item scale, most did not develop severe withdrawal, and of those who did, approximately half were treated with the protocol alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Intensive Care Medicine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • alcohol withdrawal
  • benzodiazepines
  • symptom-triggered therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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