Clinical pathway effects on treatment of the alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

South Dakota journal of medicine

PubMedID: 8693340

Morgan T, Kofoed L, Petersen DB. Clinical pathway effects on treatment of the alcohol withdrawal syndrome. S D J Med. 1996;49(6):195-200.
We investigated whether initiating a clinical pathway, that incorporated the use of an alcohol withdrawal assessment scale, would decrease length of stay (LOS) for and/or amount of benzodiazepine prescribed during uncomplicated alcohol detoxification. We retrospectively reviewed alcohol detoxification admissions on an inpatient unit: 66 admissions before, 56 after, and 75 admissions 1-year after initiation of the pathway. Admissions were grouped into completers and non-completers. Comparison of group means before and after pathway implementation demonstrated a significant decrease in LOS for completers of the detoxification service from 7. 35 to 4. 77 days, and from 6. 67 to 4. 31 days for all admissions. Similarly, total benzodiazepine exposure decreased to a third of the mg amount given per admission prior to the pathway. There were no increases in the "irregular" discharge rate or complication rate. These findings suggest that a clinical pathway, with an incorporated withdrawal assessment scale, can decrease LOS and benzodiazepine prescribing on an alcohol detoxification unit.