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February 5, 2003

Ethanol in Formularies of US Teaching Hospitals

JAMA. 2003;289(5):552. doi:10.1001/jama.289.5.552

To the Editor: The care of hospitalized patients may be complicated by an alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS), which is sometimes treated with ethanol. The evidence supporting this practice is weak, however,1 and a recent meta-analysis concluded that benzodiazepines are the treatment of choice for AWS.2 Despite this evidence, we have personally observed residents ordering oral and intravenous (IV) ethanol for AWS, and in a 2-state survey of a convenience sample we found that ethanol was dispensed to patients in 21 (91%) of 23 hospitals.3 The present study was conducted to examine the frequency of ethanol use for patient care in major American teaching hospitals.

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