Alcohol Interventions in Emergency Departments and Trauma Centers Offer Big Savings

Up to $1.82 billion in U.S. health costs could be saved if the 20.5 million patients who receive treatment in emergency rooms or trauma centers were screened for alcohol abuse and received a brief counseling intervention, if needed, according to researchers at the University of Washington (Seattle) School of Medicine.

The researchers analyzed the costs of providing screening and a brief counseling intervention and compared them to the costs of future emergency department and trauma center visits and hospital admissions. They used federal, commercial and other databases, as well as a literature search to project the costs and use of health care.

Key Findings

  • Screening all adult emergency department and trauma center patients could produce a savings of $89 for every injured patient screened, or $330 for every patient offered a brief intervention, the researchers estimated.

  • For every dollar spent on screening and brief interventions, $3.81 could be saved in health care costs, the researchers estimated.