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RECOMMENDED BEST PRACTICES
OF EMERGENCY MEDICAL CARE
FOR THE ALCOHOL-IMPAIRED 
PATIENT

The following Best Practices are intended to serve as the basis for changing how patients with AUPs are treated in the ambulance, the emergency department, and the trauma center. Notes regarding the recommendations can be found in Appendix C.

Recommended Best Practices for Pre-Hospital Professionals

  1. Assess the patient(s) and document for signs and symptoms of alcohol use problems and assess the environment for alcohol-related risk factors.
  2. Report information on alcohol use problems (AUPs) to hospital personnel.
  3. Assist with on scene information and referrals for AUP patients.
  4. Provide care for the alcohol-impaired patient(s) in a professional and non-judgmental manner.
  5. Advocate in the community for public education, prevention programs, public policy, and treatment programs for AUPs.
  6. Participate in collaborative research, education, and data gathering to improve the care of patients with AUPs.
  7. Integrate alcohol screening and alcohol education into curricula, continuing education, and standards for emergency health care professionals.

Recommended Best Practices for Nurses

  1. Listen to pre-hospital professionalsí report and elicit patient information indicative of AUP.
  2. Identify alcohol-related events in initial assessment of the patient.
  3. Perform an assessment using appropriate tools, such as history, physical examination, and screening tools.
  4. Document objective findings of assessment, interventions, and plan of care for patient with AUP.
  5. Collaborate with health care team to implement interventions, such as brief interventions, discharge planning, and referral.
  6. Communicate plan of care to appropriate services, such as physicians, substance abuse counselors, referral agencies, and inpatient caregivers.
  7. Provide care for the alcohol-impaired patient(s) in a professional and non-judgmental manner.
  8. Advocate in the community for public education, prevention programs, public policy, and treatment programs for AUPs.
  9. Participate in collaborative research, education, and data gathering to improve the care of patients with AUPs.
  10. Integrate alcohol screening and alcohol education into curricula, continuing education, and standards for emergency health care professionals.

Recommended Best Practices for Physicians

  1. Physicians should incorporate screening for alcohol use problems (AUPs) into routine care of injured patients.
  2. Physicians should document history and physical findings consistent with AUPs.
  3. Physicians should provide for a brief intervention for patients who screen positive for alcohol use problems.
  4. Physicians should be aware of state laws and consider the reporting of alcohol use problems in accordance with these laws.3
  5. Provide care for alcohol-impaired patient(s) in a professional and non-judgmental manner.
  6. Advocate in the community for public education, prevention programs, public policy, and treatment programs for AUPs.
  7. Participant in collaborative research, education and data gathering to improve the care of patients with AUPs.
  8. Integrate alcohol screening and alcohol education into curricula, continuing education, and standards for emergency health care professionals.4

  1. For those patients who cannot operate a motor vehicle safely.
  2. For example, trauma surgeons.