Friday, January 10, 2014
Lack of Alcohol Screening by Doctors
“Drinking alcohol has a lot more risks than many people realize,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden. “In the same way we screen patients for high cholesterol and high blood pressure, we should be screening for excess alcohol use and responding effectively.”
Only 17 percent of pregnant women said they had been asked about their drinking, according to USA Today. The CDC defines binge drinking as having five or more drinks within two to three hours for men, and four or more drinks during that time for women. Binge drinking is responsible for the majority of alcohol related problems, yet, only 25 percent of binge drinkers say they have been asked about their alcohol use, the CDC reports.
New insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act, cover alcohol screening. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all patients have alcohol screening.
“We are not saying no one should drink. Most people who drink do so without adverse health effects,” Frieden said. “But many people who do drink, drink too much at a time or too much overall… The health system is not doing a good job of finding out about these problems.”
Conducted in 2011, the survey included 166,753 adults over age 18 in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Studies show that screening patients about their alcohol use and offering brief counseling can reduce problem drinking, according to the CDC.