Beer on a patient's dinner tray?


  • Specializes in ICU. Med/Surg: Ortho, Neuro, & Cardiac.

This isn't a joke. Last night a nurse was talking about her patient getting beer on their dinner tray so she wouldn't leave AMA. The patient had a hx of ETOH abuse.

Other nurses replied that their patients have gotten beer in the hospital.

This totally confused me. Does this really happen??


8,343 Posts

Has 18 years experience.

Yes it does. You'll even see orders for "30 cc brandy at hs".

I've seen units for elderly alcoholics where they keep their drink in the med room and the doctors all know about it. The units are for designated alcoholics.

You are not going to dry out someone who has been drunk their entire adult life and expect them to live a "normal" live when they are in the 70s.

If you do try to dry them out you'll kill them. I've seen it.


281 Posts

Specializes in ICU. Med/Surg: Ortho, Neuro, & Cardiac.

I totally agree with the above poster. DT's are a horrible thing.

However, if a patient has a history of ETOH abuse and is used to drinking say, 24 beers a day, won't 1 beer at HS, or before meals just make them crave more and become more anxious?


3,362 Posts

Specializes in ICU/Critical Care.

Yes, it happens. I'm not there to cure their addiction to alcohol. It's better to let them have a drink than go into DTs.

leslie :-D

11,191 Posts

i don't see anything wrong with this...esp for active alcoholics.

as long as it doesn't interact w/any meds they're taking.


november17, ASN, RN

1 Article; 980 Posts

Specializes in Ortho, Case Management, blabla. Has 9 years experience.

I don't really see a problem with it as long as it is okay with the physician. Just check and make sure any drugs you're giving aren't going to react too harshly with alcohol.

When I worked at a nursing home there were a couple of elderly gentleman that would have a beer in the evening time. Also there was an elderly woman that would have a glass of wine each night while watching TV in her room.

Hey, if it stops the patient from going AMA, what's the worse harm that can happen? Ethically I think I'd probably give the beer with the tray in this case.


281 Posts

Specializes in ICU. Med/Surg: Ortho, Neuro, & Cardiac.

I probably shouldn't have tagged this an "Ethical Issue." I'm not a nurse, but I know that if I was one, and the doctor ordered ETOH to prevent DT's, I'd be required to carry out the order based on the nurse practice act.


4 Posts

yes at times this is done 2 keep patients from going into dt's

Diary/Dairy, RN

1,785 Posts

Cheaper than dealing with DT's - Not used often enough, IMHO.

locolorenzo22, BSN, RN

1 Article; 2,396 Posts

Specializes in Ortho, Neuro, Detox, Tele.

yep...I work on a detox floor...and it's tough to try to make the old alcoholics go without...we usually have to med them up a lot...

Specializes in TCU.

My ex's Italian grandmother got her glass of vino @ hs, daily, and I have seen more than one resident indulge in a nightly beer/spirits.

I would probably do the same if I end up in a nursing home, drinking a beer, listening to the Ramones, and hangin' with my homies! :chuckle

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