The director of the B.C. Centre on Substance Use says a simple screening questionnaire can properly assess patients’ symptoms to help treat severe alcohol withdrawal.
Evan Wood is the lead author of a study that urges improvements to treat alcohol withdrawal, saying too many patients are admitted to hospital when they could be managed with outpatient services.
Wood says St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver is the only hospital in the country to use the questionnaire, which he says improves care and saves the health-care system money.
Research by the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction said alcohol use costs Canadians $14.6 billion annually from health care, lost production, criminal justice and other costs.
The report reviewed 530 studies involving more than 71,000 patients and is published in the Journal of American Medical Association.
Wood said doctors should be trained to use the assessment tool, which could help prescribe one of several drugs to patients that could reduce cravings and binge drinking.
With files from the Canadian Press.