Introduction: Ideal management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) incorporates a symptom driven approach, whereby patients are regularly assessed using a standardized scoring system (Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol-Revised; CIWA-Ar) and treated according to severity. Accurate administration of the CIWA-Ar requires experience, yet there is no training program to teach this competency. The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a web-based curriculum to teach clinicians how to accurately assess and treat AWS. Methods: This was a three-phase educational program consisting of a series of 3 e-learning modules of core competency material, in-person seminar to orient learners to high fidelity simulation, and summative evaluation in an OSCE setting using a standardized patient. To determine the ED impact of the AWS curriculum, we recorded how often the CIWA-Ar was appropriately applied in the ED pre and post training. ED length of stay, total dose of benzodiazepines administered in the ED, and number of prescriptions and unit benzodiazepine doses given upon discharge were also recorded. Results: 74 nurses from an academic ED completed the AWS curriculum. There were 130 and 126 patients in the pre and post AWS training periods, respectively. Management of AWS was not compliant with CIWA-Ar protocol in 78 (60.0%) and 46 (36.5%) patients pre and post AWS training, respectively ( 23.5%; 95% CI: 11.3%, 34.7%), resulting in administration of benzodiazepine when it was not required, or not giving benzodiazepines with a CIWA-Ar score of 10. There was an average of 4 CIWA-Ar scores per patient in both the pre and post implementation periods. Prior to AWS training, 144/560 (25.5%) CIWA-Ar scores resulted in a breach of protocol, compared to 64/547 (11.7%) following AWS training ( 13.8%; 95% CI: 9.3%, 18.3%). Median total dose of benzodiazepines administered in the ED was lower after the implementation of the AWS curriculum (40mg vs 30mg; 10 mg; 95% CI: 0mg, 20mg). ED length of stay and the amount of benzodiazepines given to patients at discharge were similar between groups. Conclusion: This AWS curriculum appears to be an effective way to train ED clinicians on the proper administration of the CIWA-Ar protocol, and results in improved patient care.
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