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The impact of alcohol-related admissions on resource use in critically ill patients from 2009 to 2015: an observational study

Intensive Care Unit, Alice Springs Hospital, Alice Springs, Northern Territory

Summary

Excessive alcohol use is associated with increased health care utilisation and increased mortality. This observational study sought to identify the proportion of patients admitted with a critical illness in which alcohol misuse contributed, and to examine the resource use for this group. We performed an observational retrospective database review of all admissions to the Alice Springs Hospital intensive care unit (ICU) between 1 January 2009 and 31 December 2015. The Alice Springs Hospital ICU is a ten-bed unit located in Central Australia, with approximately 600 admissions annually. The per capita consumption of alcohol in Central Australia is approximately 1.5 times the national average. The primary aim was to determine the proportion of admissions to intensive care in which alcohol misuse was identified as a contributing cause. Secondary aims examined resource utilisation including ICU and hospital length of stay, need for and duration of mechanical ventilation, and ICU re-admission. There were 3,768 admissions involving 2,670 individual patients. Of these admissions 947 (25%) were associated with alcohol misuse. Admissions associated with alcohol were significantly more likely to require mechanical ventilation (30% versus 20%, P <0.01), and had a significantly longer ICU length of stay (2.1 versus 1.9 days, P <0.05). The proportion of admissions in which alcohol misuse was implicated is amongst the highest in the published literature. The results of this study should drive further policy change directed at harm minimisation, and warrant more detailed epidemiological work at both a local and national level.

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