Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Detox Center Can Be As Good As Emergency Room for Some Drunk Patients

By Join Together Staff | November 26, 2012 | Leave a comment | Filed in Alcohol, Research & Treatment

Some inebriated people picked up by emergency medical service ambulance crews can be treated effectively at a detoxification center, instead of an emergency room (ER), according to a new study. Increasing the use of such centers could reduce costs and lessen crowding of emergency rooms, the researchers note.

“Widespread use of this type of protocol has the potential to provide significant financial savings for the U.S. health care system,” lead author David Ross said in a news release. “This population is very frequently transported to the ER by EMS or police, consuming a disproportionate share of resources and contributing to ER overcrowding. A detoxification center is a good alternative to the ER for certain intoxicated patients who just need an appropriately staffed facility to ‘dry out.’ Our research suggests that EMS personnel can identify patients who are safe for this alternative destination.”

The researchers estimate that in 2004, ER visits by people whose only medical issue was inebriation cost about $900 million, Reuters reports.

Ross and colleagues created a checklist with 29 yes-or-no questions for ambulance crews. These questions included whether the patient is cooperating with the ambulance worker’s exam, and if the patient is willing to go to the detox center. If the ambulance worker checked “no” on any question, the patient was sent to the ER.

The researchers evaluated the outcome of 718 inebriated patients transported by ambulance workers who used the checklist.

The workers brought 138 to detox centers, and the rest went to the local ER. The detox center had a 24-hour nurse and technicians, who could consult by phone with a physician’s assistant and a psychiatrist. They found four patients at the detox center were taken to the ER because of minor complications, but no serious complications were reported.

The findings are published in Annals of Emergency Medicine.


  1. I remember when I was suffering from alcoholism and would check into the local ER during detox/withdrawals. I didn’t know at the time that detox centers even existed. I wish I did because then maybe I would have gotten help for my addiction. Instead Doctors would do what they did best in ER’s treat (my symptoms) and educate me (don’t drink anymore). Unfortunately, they didn’t know about the disease of addiction well enough to treat it effectively. The end result? Detox (from an ER only) was not treatment. I needed to continue my journey into recovery by first detoxing at a center where they knew how to treat alcoholism too. Thanks Joesph for sharing, I will be following this blog moving forward. I hope you also take the time to connect with me on Facebook Watershed Ashling

    In addition, here is my story: https://www.thewatershed.com/blog/watershed-ashling-i-am-an-alcoholic/

  2. Among many heroin addiction rehabs, the holistic sanctuary is one where people can find the way out of the addictions. Along with other natural process, they use ibogaine to reduce the effects of heroin.