Inappropriate benzodiazepine dosing in patients exhibiting signs of alcohol withdrawal cause staff and patient safety problems. Our primary goal was to develop an alcohol withdrawal protocol based on objective measures, and then to coordinate benzodiazepine dosing with those measures and improve care of the patient withdrawing from alcohol. A secondary goal was to give the primary care nurse the flexibility to administer benzodiazepine doses as needed to improve patient and staff safety. We developed and implemented a modified version of a published withdrawal symptomatology scale; a corresponding scale was developed for benzodiazepine dosing by observing the usual lorazepam doses needed to control withdrawal symptoms. Both scales and care guidelines for the patient withdrawing from alcohol were organized in the form of preprinted orders. Since implementation of the alcohol withdrawal protocol, complaints regarding patient and staff safety have decreased. Other patient care units are beginning to use the protocol. A hospital-wide task force is developing patient care plans based on the protocol for all patients withdrawing from alcohol.

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