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January/February Annals of Family Medicine tip sheet

OCCASIONAL DRINKING ASSOCIATED WITH MORE INJURIES THAN ALCOHOLISM
Contrary to common perception, injuries attributable to alcohol consumption are more likely to be associated with an occasion of alcohol consumption than with alcohol dependence. In this population-based study of 2,517 patients admitted to three emergency departments between 1998 and 2000, most alcohol-associated injuries occurred in persons who had consumed alcohol during the six hours before injury. The proportion of injuries that would not have occurred in the absence of drinking during the six hours before injury was between 8.5 and 10.6 percent, compared to 4 percent due to alcohol dependence.

The authors assert that what is generally considered nonhazardous alcohol consumption is frequently associated with injury. Consuming two or three alcoholic drinks for women or two to four for men caused about 4 percent of all emergency department injury visits in this study, about the same proportion as is caused by alcohol dependence. An even greater proportion of major injuries (between 7.6 and 9.9 percent) was attributed to these levels of drinking.

The authors note that in 2001, 29.2 million injuries were treated in U.S. emergency departments. Of those injuries as many as 1.3 million are possibly attributable to drinking what is considered a nonhazardous amount of alcohol. The authors assert that preventing these injuries could result in a considerable benefit to individuals and society.
Alcohol-Related Injuries: Evidence for the Prevention Paradox
By Maria C. Spurling, M.D., et al

ETHICIST ASSERTS THAT PHYSICIANS SHOULD REFUSE TO SEE PHARMACEUTICAL SALES REPRESENTATIVES
Practicing family physician and ethicist Howard Brody, M.D., Ph.D., contends that because visits with pharmaceutical representatives are time-consuming and because the representatives serve interests that often are at odds with those of patients, physicians shou
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Contact: Angela Lower
alower@aafp.org
913-906-6253
American Academy of Family Physicians
25-Jan-2005


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