Alcohol problems in a general hospital


Dr A. Foy, General Medicine, Newcastle Mater Misericordiae Hospital, Locked Bag 7, Hunter Region Mail Centre NSW 2310, Australia. Tel: (02) 49 211 269; fax (02) 49 211 870; e-mail:


Alcohol is a ubiquitous drug which is responsible for a substantial amount of ill health and approximately 20% of patients in a general hospital will have alcohol-related problems, although only 4% will be admitted with alcohol-caused conditions. Eight per cent of patients, however, can be expected to have sufficient neuroadaptation to be at risk of withdrawal. This level of prevalence of alcoholism in general hospital patients requires that hospitals must become expert at providing good quality care for alcohol-related problems in all areas including obstetrics, but particularly in the management of intoxication, withdrawal and the various alcoholrelated diseases. This paper provides some suggested benchmarks for acceptable standards of care for alcohol problems in the acute hospital.