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Alcohol Withdrawal Rates Up in Hospitalized Patients During Pandemic

WEDNESDAY, March 10, 2021 -- In 2020, there was an increase in alcohol withdrawal (AW) rates among hospitalized patients, with a peak at the end of the stay-at-home period, according to a research letter published online March 3 in JAMA Network Open.

Ram A. Sharma, M.B.B.S., from Christiana Care in Newark, Delaware, and colleagues examined AW rates for patients hospitalized between Jan. 1, 2018, and Sept. 22, 2020. Rates were also calculated for three periods in 2020: before (Jan. 1 to March 24), during (March 25 to May 31), and after (June 1 to Sept. 22) the statewide stay-at-home order.

The study population included 340, 231, and 507 patients who received a diagnosis of AW before, during, and after the stay-at-home period, respectively. The researchers found that across these three periods, patient characteristics were similar. In 2020, the rate of AW in hospitalized patients was consistently higher compared with both 2019 and the average of 2018 and 2019; the difference was larger in the period after the stay-at-home order. In 2020 versus 2019, the largest incidence rate ratio occurred in the last two weeks of the stay-at-home order (1.84). Compared with the same period in 2019, during the pandemic (March 25 to Sept. 22), AW rates in hospitalized patients increased significantly (incidence rate ratio, 1.34).

"With the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, many states might revert to stay-at-home orders and this trend may worsen," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to Masimo, a medical device company.

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