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Standardizing Intoxication Assessments in the Emergency Department

Stephens, Denise RN, MSN

Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal: April-June 2010 - Volume 32 - Issue 2 - p 168–172
doi: 10.1097/TME.0b013e3181db4a89

Determining capacity for consented treatment begins every patient encounter. While most assessments are unambiguous, emergency department personnel may be lacking in ability to accurately assess mild to moderately intoxicated patients. These assessments are often based on subjective evaluations leading to a high degree of variability among clinicians. The resulting legal and patient care ramifications can be devastating to both patient and provider. Establishing standardized capacity assessments for intoxicated patients will help mitigate poor clinical decisions and legal repercussions.

School of Nursing, Columbia University, New York, New York.

Corresponding Author: Denise Stephens, RN, MSN, School of Nursing, Columbia University, 617 West 168th St, New York, NY 10032 (

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.