Heavy drinking increases days in hospital

March 14, 2012 at 12:49 AM
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SEATTLE, March 14 (UPI) -- People who score highest on a key test for alcoholism experience longer postoperative hospital stays than those with lower scores, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Anna D. Rubinsky of Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle said those who scored highest on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test Consumption were also more likely to return to the operating room within 30 days of a surgical procedure than patients with low scores.

The study showed high-risk drinkers one year prior to an operation experienced increased inpatient healthcare use relative to low-risk drinkers in all areas except hospital re-admissions.

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, found men with high-risk drinking spent nearly a day longer in the hospital and 1.5 more days in the intensive care unit, and were twice as likely to return to the operating room compared with low-risk drinkers.

"The findings from this study indicate that preoperative alcohol screening might serve as an effective tool to identify patients at risk for increased postoperative care," Rubinsky said in a statement. "Implementing preoperative alcohol screening and providing proactive interventions could potentially decrease the need for costly postoperative resources and improve patient outcomes."

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