Friday, September 25, 2009

If You Like Piña Coladas

ERP from ER Stories just contributed his first guest post over at WhiteCoat's Call Room.  His story about intoxicated patients' seemingly miraculous ability to escape loss of life or limb reminded me of the hundreds of "drunk fall down" or "drunk vs. stairs" cases that roll through the trauma bay each year.

Up until today, I always believed there was some strange ability of alcohol to alter the gravitational constant of the universe in the immediate vicinity of those who consume it that contributed to the association between liquor and injury.

This week, however, I learned that I've had it all wrong.  Alcohol, it seems, actually prevents trauma... at least in certain cases.  According to the BBC, patients with EtOH on board appear less likely to die from brain trauma than teetotalers.  Experts believe that the right amount of booze can prevent secondary brain injury caused by swelling, in addition to the more well-known heart benefits.

Before we start stocking IV Smirnoff in the Pyxis, however, it's worth remembering that countless of other studies have linked alcohol and injury.  Just remember: everything in moderation.


anonymousRN said...

In my 5 years of being a nursing student and a nurse, I have now met several patients who are now complete quadriplegics as a result of accidents while drinking. (Not including any injuries resulting from a DUI) From simply falling down the stairs at home, or even falling off the bar stool. I think that the risks outweigh the potential benefits....

Second Shift said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I think this is an example of one of those studies which, while interesting, has little clinical value. It's not like anyone is going to recommend that the general public walks around with a baseline amount of EtOH in their system on the odd chance that it will prevent secondary brain injury should they hit their head.

Put another way: I've lost track of the number of EtOH-related accidents I've seen. I've yet to encounter one where EtOH had any sort of protective effect.