Objective: To determine the percentage of patients hospitalized after an alcohol-related motor vehicle crash (MVC) who underwent a screening evaluation for alcohol abuse/dependence and had a diagnosis of alcohol abuse/dependence. Patients and Methods: Medical and emergency trauma records were reviewed retrospectively for 1994 through 1996 to identify patients who were hospitalized as a result of being involved in an MVC with any detected blood alcohol at the time of admission to a large midwestern Level I trauma center. The primary outcome measure was the performance of alcohol abuse/dependence screening by a psychiatrist or a chemical dependency counselor. A univariate analysis was performed to identify factors associated with the performance of alcohol abuse/dependence screening. The Fisher exact test and the 2-sample rank sum test were used in the analyses. Results: Of the 294 study patients, 78 (26.5%) underwent a screening evaluation for alcohol abuse/dependence by a psychiatrist or a chemical dependency counselor during hospitalization, and 69 (88%) of the 78 patients screened had a diagnosis of alcohol abuse/dependence. Factors associated with the performance of alcohol abuse/dependence evaluation included a known prior history of alcohol abuse, suspicion of alcohol consumption documented by emergency department personnel, higher blood alcohol level at admission, and longer length of hospitalization (all P<.001). Conclusion: While the high rate of alcohol abuse/dependence may be explained partially by distinguishing factors in those screened, these findings suggest that routine alcohol abuse/dependence screening of persons presenting with a detectable blood alcohol level following an MVC may identify patients who would benefit from a chemical dependency intervention.
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