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VOLUME 27 , ISSUE 11 ( November, 2023 ) > List of Articles

Original Article

Practice Patterns in the Diagnosis and Management of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome in Indian Intensive Care Units

Mahesha Padyana, Poonam P Rai

Keywords : Alcohol use disorders, Alcohol withdrawal syndrome, Benzodiazepines, Delirium tremens, Pneumonia, Prediction of Alcohol Withdrawal Severity Scale, Thiamine in alcohol withdrawal syndrome, Urinary tract infection, Wernicke's encephalopathy

Citation Information : Padyana M, Rai PP. Practice Patterns in the Diagnosis and Management of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome in Indian Intensive Care Units. Indian J Crit Care Med 2023; 27 (11):816-820.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10071-24572

License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published Online: 30-10-2023

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2023; The Author(s).


Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are prevalent in intensive care units (ICUs). Alcohol abuse and/or dependence, leading to alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS), is as high as 10% or more. There seem to be wide variations in management strategies used to manage these patients, prompting an evaluation of the knowledge gap as well as finding the barriers. Noting lack of such literature in the Indian setting, a survey is undertaken to evaluate practice patterns surrounding the identification and management of alcohol dependence/abuse and AWS in the Indian critical care scenario. The main respondents of the survey are independent practitioners with anesthesia as their base specialty and overwhelmingly practice in multidisciplinary ICUs. They estimated AUD prevalence to be under 10%. The reason most expressed for lack of AUD documentation is fear of insurance rejection. Very few used risk assessment tool in evaluation of AUDs and AWS. Awareness of ICD 10/DSM-V components of AWS diagnosis was negligible. Chlordiazepoxide and lorazepam were used either in a fixed- or symptom-based therapy. Compared to available literature, haloperidol use is excessive, while barbiturates rarely. The wide variation is seen with the dose and frequency of thiamine in AWS without neurological complications. The impact on mortality and morbidity is poorly understood. In conclusion, the survey reported a lower prevalence compared to international literature. Insurance rejection is one of the main factors in limiting adequate history taking or documenting AUDs. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome risk assessment, monitoring, and management is variable and suboptimal. Variability in all aspects of AUDs is attributable to the knowledge gap. Further studies are needed to bridge the research gap.

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