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Developing an Effective Alcohol Withdrawal Protocol  

Author:  Todd R.  Wilcox, MD, MBA, CCHP.

Source: Volume 04, Number 04, May/June 2003 , pp.49-52(4)

Correctional Health Care Report

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Managing alcohol withdrawal syndrome effectively is one of the most difficult clinical challenges in correctional health care. The crux of the challenge is the need to triage a huge volume of patients who present with alcohol-related risks to yield a low number of critical patients who can quickly deteriorate without proper medical intervention. When the task is looked at in its entirety, it seems almost comically unfair to pit the modest health care resources of a correctional facility against an army of belligerent and uncooperative inebriates in a legal atmosphere that generally considers alcohol-related health care morbidity and mortality to be “preventable.” Yet this environment is the norm for correctional facilities nationwide and it was this dilemma that prompted the Salt Lake County Jail system to redesign from scratch our entire approach to alcohol and its associated problems with the cardinal goals of efficiency, efficacy, and evidence.

Keywords: Glasgow Coma Scale, Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment, multivitamin, benzodiazepine, barbiturate, Delirium Tremens

Affiliations:  1: Salt Lake County Jail.

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