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Emergency Medical Minute


Mar 21, 2022

Contributor: Aaron Lessen, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • Retrospective cohort study looked at return rate of discharged patients after receiving either phenobarbital or benzodiazepines or both in the ED for treatment of alcohol withdrawal
  • Patients who received benzodiazepines had a 25% chance of returning in 3 days versus a 10% chance of returning in 3 days for those who received phenobarbital
  • 13% of patients returned in 3 days after receiving both phenobarbital and benzodiazepines
  • Phenobarbital may make it less likely for patients to come back to the ED after receiving treatment for alcohol withdrawal


Lebin JA, Mudan A, Murphy CE 4th, Wang RC, Smollin CG. Return Encounters in Emergency Department Patients Treated with Phenobarbital Versus Benzodiazepines for Alcohol Withdrawal. J Med Toxicol. 2022;18(1):4-10. doi:10.1007/s13181-021-00863-2

Summarized by John Spartz, MS4 | Edited by Erik Verzemnieks, MD


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