Alcohol-related morbidity and mortality have increased substantially over the last 20 years and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals with injuries or illness related to alcohol use are increasingly presenting to emergency departments (EDs). This retrospective cohort study examined mortality risk among individuals presenting to California EDs for an alcohol-related cause from 2009 to 2011.
- Over the study period, 437,855 individuals sought ED care for acute alcohol intoxication or alcohol use disorder (AUD), comprising 3% of all ED visits.
- Most individuals were male (68%) and non-Hispanic White (54%).
- The mortality rate was 609 per 100,000 in the year after the ED visit, a rate that is 8 times higher than that of demographically matched individuals.
- Most deaths occurred within 6 months of the ED visit.
- Most deaths were attributed to unintentional poisoning or suicide.
Comments: Great attention has been placed on the mortality risk associated with opioid use disorder after ED visits. This study shows that patients with AUD who are seen in the ED are also at increased risk of death. Evidence-based treatments and referrals are urgently needed for individuals with AUD who present for services.
Melissa B. Weimer, DO, MCR
Reference: Goldman-Mellor S, Olfson M, Schoenbaum M. Acute injury mortality and all-cause mortality following emergency department presentation for alcohol use disorder. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2022;236:109472.