Using clinical decision support through the electronic medical record to increase prescribing of high-dose parenteral thiamine in hospitalized patients with alcohol use disorder

Jonathan M. Wai, Christopher Aloezos, Wenzhu B. Mowrey, Sarah W. Baron, Regina Cregin, Howard L. Forman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Background: Patients with alcohol use disorder (AUD) are at an increased risk of developing Wernicke's encephalopathy (WE), a devastating and difficult diagnosis caused by thiamine deficiency. Even as AUD is present in up to 25% of hospitalized patients on medical floors, appropriate thiamine supplementation in the hospital setting remains inadequate. These patients are particularly susceptible to thiamine deficiency and subsequent WE due to both their alcohol use and active medical illnesses. The electronic medical record (EMR) has become ubiquitous in health care systems and can be used as a tool to improve the care of hospitalized patients. Methods: As a quality improvement initiative, we implemented a medication order panel in the EMR with autopopulated orders for thiamine dosing to increase the appropriate use of high-dose parenteral thiamine (HPT) for hospitalized patients with AUD. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of all inpatients with AUD who received an Addiction Psychiatry Consult Service consult three months before and after the EMR change. We compared the proportion of patients receiving HPT prior to consultation (primary outcome) and the length of stay (secondary outcome) between the historical control group and the EMR intervention group. Results: Patients in the EMR intervention group were significantly more likely to receive HPT than the historical control group (20.2% vs. 2.7%, p < 0.0001). This difference remained statistically significant when adjusted for potential confounders (OR: 9.89, 95% CI: [2.77, 35.34], p = 0.0004). There was a trend towards statistical significance that the intervention group had a higher likelihood of being prescribed any thiamine (76.6% vs. 64.6%, p = 0.06) and had a shorter length of stay (median (IQR): 3.8 (2.4, 7.0) vs. 4.6 (2.9, 7.8) days, p = 0.06). Conclusion: These results indicate that providing autopopulated thiamine order panels for patients with AUD can be an effective method for specialty services to increase appropriate care practices without additional education or training for providers. Further research should consider the clinical outcomes of increasing HPT for patients with AUD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-123
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019



  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Decision support
  • Electronic medical record
  • Quality improvement
  • Thiamine deficiency
  • Wernicke's encephalopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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