Adverse clinical outcomes associated with elevated blood alcohol levels at the time of burn injury

J Burn Care Res. Sep-Oct 2008;29(5):784-9. doi: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e31818481bc.


Elevated blood alcohol content (BAC) on admission is associated with poorer outcomes, larger burns and more inhalation injury. This study's purpose was to examine the effects of alcohol through a matched case-controlled study, measuring early and extended markers of clinical outcomes. The hypothesis was that patients with an elevated admission BAC would require more resuscitation and have a longer hospital stay. Admissions 16 to 75 years of age with 15 to 75% TBSA and admission BACs were identified. Patients with BAC >30 mg/dl (BAC+, cases) were matched with patients with undetectable BAC (BAC-, controls), according to age, sex, TBSA, inhalation injury and mechanism. Screening identified 258 patients, 146 with admission BACs. Twenty-seven had a BAC > or = 30 mg/dl. There were 24 matched pairs. At 24 hours, BAC+ group had larger acute physiology and chronic health evaluation II scores (23.33 vs 18.75, P < .05), fluid requirements (5.25 vs 3.82 L (cc/kg/TBSA), P < .05), and base deficit (11.15 vs 7.15, P < .05). The duration of mechanical ventilation (14.85 vs 4.23 days, P < .05), intensive care unit length of stay (22.85 vs 9.38, P < .05), hospital length of stay (28.95 vs 15.68, P < .05), and mean hospital charges ($239,507 vs $144,598, P < .05) were increased in the BAC+ patients. Despite matched baseline injury characteristics, elevated BAC was associated with poorer short term and extended clinical outcomes, illustrating the impact of alcohol intoxication on physiologic derangement after burn injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / blood*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / complications*
  • Burns / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Ethanol / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Ethanol