Evaluating the influence of alcohol intoxication on the pre-hospital identification of severe head injury: a multi-center, cohort study

Robin D Lokerman*, Max Gulickx, Job F Waalwijk, Michael A van Es, Rinske M Tuinema, Luke P H Leenen, Mark van Heijl, Triage Research Collaborative Pttrc

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To determine the influence of intoxication on the pre-hospital recognition of severely head-injured patients by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) professionals and to investigate the relationship between suspected alcohol intoxication and severe head injury.

METHODS: This multi-center, retrospective, cohort study included trauma patients, aged ≥ 16 years, transported by an ambulance of the Regional Ambulance Facility Utrecht to any emergency department in the participating trauma regions.

RESULTS: Between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2017, 19,206 patients were included, of whom 1167 (6.0%) were suspected to have a severe head injury in the field, and 623 (3.2%) were diagnosed with such an injury at the hospital. These injuries were less frequently recognized in patients with a GCS ≥13 than in patients with a GCS < 13 (25.0% vs. 76.2%). Patients suspected to be intoxicated had a higher chance to suffer from severe head injury (OR 1.42, 95%-CI 1.22-1.65) and were recognized slightly more often (45.3% vs. 40.2%).

CONCLUSION: Severe head injuries are difficult to recognize in the field, especially in patients without a decreased GCS. Suspicion of alcohol intoxication did not seem to influence pre-hospital injury recognition, as it possibly makes a severe head injury harder to recognize and simultaneously raises caution for a severe injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-316
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Injury
Issue number4
Early online date27 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2023

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