Publication Details

McLean, C., Tapsell, L., Grafenauer, S. & McMahon, A. (2020). Nutritional Care of Patients Admitted to Hospital for Alcohol Withdrawal: A 5-Year Retrospective Audit. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 55 (5), 489-496.


AIM: The aim of this study was to describe the characteristics and the nutritional approaches implemented with patients undergoing alcohol withdrawal. METHODS: A retrospective analysis of medical records for patients admitted to a tertiary hospital for alcohol withdrawal was completed over a 5-year period 2013-2017. Data on nutrition-related assessment and management were extracted and descriptively analysed. RESULTS: A total of 109 medical records were included (M = 73, F = 36), with the mean age of patients 47.3 years (SD ± 11.2, range 22-70). The average length of stay was 3.7 days (SD ± 3.9, range 0.70-27.8). Approaches towards nutritional care emerged from micronutrient assessment and supplementation and/or dietetic consultation. Nutrition-related biochemistry data was available for most patients, notably serum levels of sodium, urea and creatinine (102 patients; 93.5%) and magnesium and phosphate (66 patients, 60.5%). There was evidence of some electrolyte abnormalities on admission to hospital. Eight patients had serum micronutrient status assessed; no patients had serum thiamine levels assessed. Parenteral thiamine was provided to 96 patients (88.0%) for 1.9 days (SD ± 1.1, range 1.0-6.0) with a mean dose of 2458.7 mg (SD ± 1347.6, range 300-6700 mg). Multivitamin supplementation was provided to 24 patients (22.0%). Only 23 patients (21.2%) were seen by a dietician of whom 16 underwent a comprehensive nutritional assessment and 3 were screened using the malnutrition screening tool. CONCLUSION: Inconsistent nutritional assessment and management practices were identified across a diverse population group, whilst nutritional professionals were underutilized. Future research should benchmark current guidelines and multidisciplinary approaches considering the role of nutritional specialists in the team.



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