New recommendations from The United States Preventive Services Task Force are calling for doctors and nurses to routinely screen their adult patients for alcohol misuse. Additionally, the task force hopes to encourage doctors to briefly counsel patients who exhibit hazardous drinking patterns, especially pregnant women.
The task force is an independent group of experts in evidence-based medicine and prevention. The group has decided there is not enough evidence to screen and counsel teenagers regarding their alcohol misuse.
In an article published by The New York Times, the group reports one-third of Americans misuse alcohol, which leads to approximately 85,000 deaths per year. Alcohol abuse is the third leading cause of preventable death, following smoking and obesity.
The task force has recommended a series of questions for doctors to ask their patients regarding alcohol misuse. Research shows that counseling patients helps reduce binge drinking.
Task force member, Dr. Susan Curry, released the following statement: “Clinicians can help men and women to prevent alcohol-related health risks, so we recommend screening adults, including pregnant women, for patterns of unhealthy drinking, and offering brief behavioral counseling to those who report risky or hazardous drinking.”
The task force plans to conduct more research regarding whether or not the same screening and preventative measures should be taken with teenage patients.