Head-injury patients are less likely to die if they have drunk alcohol, though they experience more complications, a study suggests.

Researchers used a national trauma database to review the cases of 38,019 patients with moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries who had been tested for alcohol when brought to the hospital between 2000 and 2005. For every 100 patients with severe brain injuries who tested negative for alcohol and died, only 88 patients with alcohol in their bloodstream died, a statistically significant 12 per cent difference, according to the study, which appears in the September 21 issue of Archives of Surgery.

If the findings are supported by future studies, they may lead to efforts to determine whether “there is a role for giving people a small amount of alcohol after they get injured,” said the paper’s first author, Dr. Ali Salim, an associate professor of surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He added, “We are not trying to say the alcohol is good, so go out and drink when you drive. That’s the last message we want to put out there.”

NYT

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