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How can nurses effectively manage patients with alcohol withdrawal?

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  • Article: Benson G et al (2012) An alcohol withdrawal tool for use in hospitals. Nursing Times; 108: 26, 15-17.

Key points

  • The number of patients admitted to acute hospitals with alcohol-related problems is growing
  • Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can have an adverse effect on the health of hospital patients
  • It can also affect the wellbeing of staff and other patients
  • The most commonly used AWS screening tool was tested in alcohol detox settings, so one was needed for acute hospitals
  • Early identification of AWS can cut length of hospital stays and the number of violent incidents

Let’s discuss

  • What are the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS)?
  • How are patients at risk of AWS assessed and managed in your clinical area?
  • Do you feel confident to manage patients with AWS? If not explain why?
  • What are the effects of poor management of AWS?
  • How would you introduce the alcohol withdrawal screening tool described in this article into clinical practice?
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