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Confronting the Obstacles to Screening and Interventions for Alcohol Problems in Trauma Centers

Gentilello, Larry M. MD

Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: September 2005 - Volume 59 - Issue 3 - p S137-S143
doi: 10.1097/01.ta.0000174877.66875.f3
Session 4

Despite the demonstrated clinical benefits and decreased risks of injury recurrence, brief alcohol interventions are still not routine practice in trauma centers. Although alcohol and drugs play a significant role in trauma, few trauma specialists are aware of the potential benefits of interventions because alcohol treatment specialists have not widely disseminated their findings to other specialties. This article addresses some key obstacles that must be overcome to facilitate brief interventions as routine trauma practice. Included are discussions on training, cost and reimbursement factors, responsibility of the trauma surgeon, patient privacy and confidentiality issues, insurance laws and regulations, needed collaboration with partners, and research priorities and funding.

From the Division of Burns, Trauma, and Critical Care, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, Texas.

Submitted for publication April 21, 2005.

Accepted for publication April 25, 2005.

Supported, in part, by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Innovators Combating Substance Abuse grant 046488.

This article was written for the proceedings from a conference entitled Alcohol Problems among Hospitalized Trauma Patients: Controlling Complications, Mortality, and Trauma Recidivism, in Arlington, Virginia, May 28–30, 2003. It does not reflect the official policy/opinions of the participating agencies, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and does not constitute an endorsement of the authors or their programs by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or the federal government, and none should be inferred.

Address for reprints: Larry M. Gentilello, MD, Department of Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, TX 75390-9158; email: larry.gentilello@utsouthwestern.edu.

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.