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Journal Article


Sloan EP, Zalenski RJ, Smith RF, Sheaff CM, Chen EH, Keys NI, Crescenzo M, Barrett JA, Berman E. J. Trauma 1989; 29(12): 1647-1653.


Division of Trauma Surgery, Cook County Hospital, Chicago, IL 60612.


(Copyright © 1989, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins)






Although toxicology screening is often used when treating trauma patients, its utility and significance remain controversial. Data from 623 toxicology screens performed in urban trauma center patients with mental status alterations are reported. The study patients were predominantly black and male, with a mean age of 32 (+/- 22) years. Overall, 86% of screens were positive. Substances of abuse, including ethanol, were noted in 525 (84%) of urine toxicology screens. Ethanol, cannabinoids, and cocaine were the drugs most commonly found in urine, with positivity noted in 53%, 37%, and 34% of screens. Serum analysis was 44% positive, with ethanol noted in 41% of patients. In blacks, the odds ratio of illicit drug use before trauma ranged from 1.9 to 4.2 (p less than 0.005), and in those aged 17 to 40 years, the odds ratio for illicit urine drugs ranged from 4.7 to 16.8 (p less than 0.001). In patients older than 40 years, the odds of a positive serum ethanol level were 1.7 times greater than in younger patients, and a level above 300 mg% was 3.8 times more likely in this age group (p less than 0.001). When serum ethanol was detected, the odds ratio of a head injury was 1.4 relative to patients without serum ethanol (p less than 0.06), and the odds ratio for abdominal injury was 1.6 for patients with serum ethanol (p less than 0.03). The odds of a TS less than 12 were 1.8 (p less than 0.05), and the odds of a GCS less than 12 were 3.3 (p less than 0.001) with ethanol levels greater than 100 mg%.


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