November 19, 2012
Drinking Alcohol Reduces Risk Of Death When Injured, Hospitalized
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Alcohol can make a person act in an uncharacteristic manner, persuading them to do things they would never do with a sober mind. In fact, some people (depending on their poison) are even taken to feeling indestructible with the right amount of spirits in them. This is all very well known behavior, of course.
“This study is not encouraging people to drink,” states Lee Friedman, author of this study and University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) injury epidemiologist. While this study has found that those patients with some alcohol in their system were more likely to survive their injuries, they were not able to conclude that drunk people are somehow invincible. In fact, Dr. Friedman´s research found people are more likely to sustain some sort of injury after they´ve been drinking. However, once these patients become injured as a result of boozing, the alcohol may act as a sort of protection.
“After an injury, if you are intoxicated there seems to be a pretty substantial protective effect,” said Dr. Friedman today in a statement.
“The more alcohol you have in your system, the more the protective effect.”
To conduct his research, Dr. Friedman analyzed the data from the Illinois Trauma Registry for more than 190,000 patients between 1995 and 2009. Looking specifically at those trauma patients who had a blood alcohol content of zero to 0.5 percent, Dr. Friedman found 6,733 of these patients died in the hospital.
Dr. Friedman suggests the presence of alcohol in a patient´s blood directly corresponds with their likelihood of surviving their trauma. For instance, those who had been submitted to the hospital for fractures, internal injuries and open wounds were more likely to survive if they had a bit of alcohol in their system. There was one notable exception, however: Those patients with some booze in their blood who had been burned were not protected by alcohol.
According to Dr. Friedman´s study, those patients with a low blood alcohol concentration (below 0.1 percent) were less likely to survive their trauma.
“At the higher levels of blood alcohol concentration, there was a reduction of almost 50 percent in hospital mortality rates,” Dr. Friedman said.
“This protective benefit persists even after taking into account injury severity and other factors known to be strongly associated with mortality following an injury.”
Not many studies have been conducted to understand the correlation between alcohol and mortality rates in hospitals. Some studies have been conducted to measure the protective properties of alcohol on animals, but according to Dr. Friedman, these studies have mostly contradicted one another.
In conclusion, Dr. Friedman stressed how important it is for doctors and clinicians to recognize the signs of inebriation and to understand how alcohol can affect a patient´s treatment. While further research still needs to be done to better understand why alcohol seems to protect the injured, Dr. Friedman suggests hospitals and first responders could one day begin treating these patients with drugs that mimic the effects of alcohol.