There is little consensus in the literature regarding the effect of ethanol intoxication on trauma outcomes. Data on its effect in the elderly are even sparser. Our aim was to better define the impact of alcohol use in the geriatric trauma population.
We conducted a retrospective review at a level I trauma center looking at admissions from January 2015 through December 2018. Patients were grouped by age: 15-64 y old (YOUNG) versus ≥ 65 y old (OLD). Blood alcohol content (BAC) ≤0.10 g/dL was ETOH (-), and BAC >0.10 g/dL was ETOH (+). These were then propensity matched by injury severity score and mechanism of injury. Fisher’s exact test and linear regression were applied as appropriate. Significance was defined as P < 0.05.
There were 8754 patients admitted during the study time frame. A total of 6106 patients were YOUNG and 2647 were OLD. A total of 146 (5.5%) OLD patients were ETOH (+), whereas 1488 (24.4%) YOUNG patients were ETOH (+) (P < 0.0001). To assess the impact of alcohol between the two age groups, 285 OLD patients were propensity matched with 285 YOUNG patients. Mortality was significantly higher in the OLD (11.9%) group than that in the YOUNG (3.5%) group (P < 0.001). Morbidity was also higher in OLD versus YOUNG patients overall (P < 0.05). The presence of ethanol did not significantly impact morbidity or mortality in YOUNG or OLD patients.
Higher mortality and morbidity is unsurprising in geriatric trauma patients; however, alcohol does not appear to play a significant role in these outcomes.

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