Intervention: preventing trips to the trauma unit

Jana MacLeod, MD

Drunk drivers have been known to walk away from auto wrecks—but that’s unusual. In fact, the norm is this: those who drink before an accident of any kind, particularly a motor vehicle accident, have a much higher chance of being injured or dying than if they hadn’t been drinking at all. If you’re facing a DUI charge, don’t hesitate to reach out through this contact form to discuss your situation with an experienced lawyer.

So, Jana MacLeod, MD, and her colleagues trained surgical interns to conduct brief interventions on patients with alcohol-related injuries. MacLeod is an associate professor of surgery, Emory University School of Medicine. She says brief interventions offer patients a way to talk about their alcohol use with their physician, and then make behavioral changes if they so choose.

MacLeod talks about the benefits of these interventions in an Emory Sound Science podcast.

“Recent studies have shown brief alcohol interventions with trauma patients who have a history of alcohol misuse successfully prevented future episodes of drunk driving,” says MacLeod. What’s more, it’s been shown a five-minute intervention reduces hazardous drinking patterns up to three years after injury and decreases recidivism.

Although 30 to 50 percent of patients who are admitted to trauma centers have misused alcohol preceding their injury, these patients are not necessarily alcoholics, rather they may have a history of alcohol misuse.

“As a trauma surgeon, it behooves me to try to do something to impact this, to change this, because it is such a huge risk factor for severity of injury and recurrent injury,” says MacLeod.

“If surgeons knew how to perform brief interventions, they could help prevent future injuries and death,” says MacLeod. “In addition, they would better understand why this preventive service should become a routine element of trauma care. And later in their careers they might be more likely to facilitate or implement brief interventions in their trauma centers when they are in positions of leadership.”

Says MacLeod, the training allows surgical interns to learn a valuable technique to connect with patients and make a contribution other than just putting a broken bone back together or sewing up an injury.

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