Yes, they do. I used to work in an inpatient substance abuse unit, and while it's easy to become complacent, when you have chronically ill patients with medical needs you have to be hypervigilant. The problem, at least where I worked, is that most of the nurses had little med-surg experience and had no idea what to do if something went wrong. You have the added burden of assessing (especially the elderly ) whether someone is wacky because he/she is, well, wacky, as opposed to something organic.
Now, a subject near and dear to my heart is the treatment of ETOH withdrawal. DT's are preventable folks, trust me. The problem is that most physicians are clueless, as are nurses, when it comes to assessing and treating ETOH withdrawal. The mortality rate for withdrawal is a staggering 15%, which in this day and age is absolutely unacceptable. When I worked med-surg, the standard order for ETOH withdrawal was 25-50mg Librium q 6 hours, prn. You have got to be kidding me. It had the same effect as pissing in the ocean.
When I transferred to substance abuse, we used Valium, and for those in acute withdrawal we assessed q15 minutes, and were quite liberal in giving that Valium. We had patients who were uncomfortable during withdrawal but no one ever went through DT's. It's been my position for years that there is absolutely no excuse for the medical profession to not prevent DT's.