Cost impact of sobering centers on national health care spending in the United States.

Scheuter, Claudia; Rochlin, Danielle H; Lee, Chuan-Mei; Milstein, Arnold; Kaplan, Robert M (2020). Cost impact of sobering centers on national health care spending in the United States. Translational behavioral medicine, 10(4), pp. 998-1003. Oxford University Press 10.1093/tbm/ibz075

[img] Text
Scheuter, TBM 2019.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to registered users only
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (161kB) | Request a copy

Acute alcohol intoxication is responsible for a sizable share of emergency department visits. Intoxicated individuals without other medical needs may not require the high level of care provided by an emergency department. We estimate the impact on U.S. health care spending if individuals with uncomplicated, acute alcohol intoxication were treated in sobering centers instead of the emergency department. We performed a budget impact analysis from the perspective of the U.S. health care system based on published and gray literature reports. Ninety-five percent confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using Monte Carlo modeling with random variation for three variables (cost of an emergency department visit, cost of a sobering center visit, and start-up costs per sobering center visit) and the percentage of cases diverted from emergency departments to sobering centers. Outcomes were expressed in terms of national savings in 2017 U.S. dollars. Assuming a diversion rate of 50% based on previous studies, national savings range from $230 million to $1.0 billion annually. In the Monte Carlo modeling, we found annual national savings of $99.02 million (95% CI: $95.89-$102.19 million), $792.34 million (95% CI: $767.09-$817.58 million), and $1,185.51 million (95% CI: $1,150.64-$1,226.37 million) with diversion rates of 5%, 40%, and 60%, respectively. Implementing sobering centers as a treatment alternative for individuals with uncomplicated acute alcohol intoxication could yield substantial cost savings for the U.S. health care system.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of General Internal Medicine (DAIM) > Clinic of General Internal Medicine > Centre of Competence for General Internal Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Scheuter, Claudia




Oxford University Press




Christine Baumgartner

Date Deposited:

05 Aug 2019 17:47

Last Modified:

10 Oct 2020 01:30

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Alcohol intoxication Alcohol use disorder Budget impact Emergency department Health care costs Sobering center




Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback