Washington: Injured patients were less likely to die during hospitalisation if they had alcohol in their blood, according to a new study.
"This study is not encouraging people to drink," cautions University of Illinois, Chicago injury epidemiologist Lee Friedman, who authored the study.
That`s because alcohol intoxication -- even minor inebriation -- is associated with an increased risk of being injured, Friedman was quoted as saying in the journal Alcohol.
"However, after an injury, if you are intoxicated there seems to be a pretty substantial protective effect," said Friedman, assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at Illinois.
Friedman analyzed Illinois Trauma Registry data for 190,612 patients treated at trauma centres between 1995 and 2009 who were tested for blood alcohol content, which ranged from zero to 0.5 percent at the time they were admitted to the trauma unit.
Of that group, 6,733 died in hospital, according to an Illinois statement.
The study examined the relationship of alcohol dosage to in-hospital mortality following traumatic injuries such as fractures, internal injuries and open wounds.
Alcohol benefited patients across the range of injuries, with burns as the only exception.
The benefit extended from the lowest blood alcohol concentration (below 0.1 percent) through the highest levels (up to 0.5 percent).
"At the higher levels of blood alcohol concentration, there was a reduction of almost 50 percent in hospital mortality rates," Friedman said.
"This protective benefit persists even after taking into account injury severity and other factors known to be strongly associated with mortality following an injury."
If the mechanism behind the protective effect were understood, "we could then treat patients post-injury, either in the field or when they arrive at the hospital, with drugs that mimic alcohol," Friedman concluded.