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ETOH Medical Abbreviation – Meaning

ETOH is an acronym for ethyl alcohol, more commonly known as ethanol. It is a clear, colorless liquid. The use of it as a medical abbreviation is derived from the chemical formula for ethanol, which is C2H5OH. The abbreviation is commonly used in medical documentation to describe the presence or level of alcohol in a patient’s bloodstream, as well as to indicate any associated symptoms or conditions related to alcohol use.

  • For example, a patient with a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) may be described as having a positive ETOH test, while a patient with symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may be described as ETOH dependent. In some cases, healthcare providers may also use the term ETOH abuse or ETOH intoxication to describe patterns of problematic alcohol use or acute episodes of excessive drinking.

It is the primary active ingredient in alcoholic beverages. Ethanol is a clear, colorless liquid that is volatile and flammable, and it has a characteristic odor and taste. It is a psychoactive substance that affects the central nervous system, producing a range of effects that can vary depending on the dose and individual factors.

In the medical field, the term is often used as a shorthand notation in patient charts to indicate the presence of alcohol in the patient’s system. Alcohol is often tested in emergency rooms, hospitals, and other healthcare settings as part of routine blood work or when alcohol use is suspected.

  • It is important to note that the use of the term in medical documentation should always be accompanied by clear and detailed descriptions of the patient’s condition and symptoms. This ensures that other healthcare providers who may be involved in the patient’s care have a complete understanding of the patient’s medical history and can provide appropriate treatment and support.

Ethanol is absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestine, and it is metabolized primarily in the liver. The liver breaks down ethanol into a variety of metabolites, including acetaldehyde and acetate. Ethanol metabolism occurs at a relatively constant rate, and the liver can metabolize approximately one standard drink per hour.

The effects of ethanol on the body can vary depending on a range of factors, including the dose, the individual’s body weight and metabolism, and the presence of other drugs or medications in the system. At low doses, ethanol can produce feelings of relaxation, euphoria, and increased sociability. At higher doses, it can cause impaired judgment, loss of coordination, and slurred speech. In extreme cases, ethanol overdose can lead to respiratory depression, coma, and even death.

The use of ethanol is associated with a range of acute and chronic health risks. Acute risks include the risk of accidents and injuries, such as motor vehicle accidents or falls. Chronic risks include the development of alcohol use disorders, liver disease, and other health problems. Long-term heavy use of ethanol can also lead to changes in brain structure and function, which can contribute to the development of cognitive deficits and mental health disorders.

The diagnosis and treatment of alcohol use disorders involve a range of medical and behavioral interventions. These may include medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapies, and support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. It is also important to address any underlying mental health issues that may be contributing to alcohol use, such as depression or anxiety.

It is produced through the fermentation of sugars and starches by yeast and other microorganisms. It is used in a variety of products, including alcoholic beverages, solvents, and fuel.


In conclusion, the term ETOH is a shorthand notation used in the medical field to indicate the presence or level of alcohol in a patient’s system. Understanding the meaning of this abbreviation is important for healthcare providers to accurately diagnose and treat patients with alcohol-related conditions.

It is a psychoactive substance that is widely used in alcoholic beverages. By understanding the risks and consequences associated with ethanol use, individuals can make informed choices about their drinking behavior and seek appropriate treatment if necessary.

Billing Codes

From the DSM-5 – 5 catalog – page 461

The current ICD 10 for uncomplicated alcohol abuse is ICD-10-CM diagnosis code F10.10.

ICD-10-CM F10.10 is within Diagnostic Related Group(s) (MS-DRG v38.0):

  • 894 left AMA
  • 895 with rehabilitation therapy
  • 896 without rehab therapy with MCC (Major Complications Comorbidities)
  • 897  without rehabilitation therapy without MCC

For medical billing, to accurately use the ICD code for alcohol withdrawal, patients must exhibit two or more of the following symptoms:

  • Visible hand tremors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Transient visual, tactile, or auditory hallucinations
  • Anxiety or panic
  • Grand mal seizures
  • Impaired consciousness attention


The CAGE questions are a tool used by physicians and health care professionals and should be face-to-face (not as a paper and pencil test).

The following four questions make up the CAGE questionnaire:

  • Have you ever felt the need to cut down on drinking?
  • Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt bad or guilty about drinking?
  • Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?

Patients who answer ‘yes’ to 2 questions are seven times more likely to be alcohol dependent than the general population. Those who respond ‘no’ to all four questions are one-seventh likely to have alcoholism as the general population. The sensitivity of the CAGE questionnaire may be as high as 75%.

  • There are other tests, such as the AUDIT test, a pen, and a paper questionnaire.


The DSM- 5 criteria are as follows: “A maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by two or more of the following, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:”

  • Alcohol is often taken in more significant amounts or over a more extended period than was intended.
  • There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
  • A great deal of time in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects.
  • A craving for alcohol and a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.
  • Recurrent alcohol use failing to fulfill significant role obligations at work, school, or home.
  • Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
  • Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.
  • Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
  • Alcohol use continues despite having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely caused or exacerbated by alcohol.

Recent Changes to the DSM-IV

Download the MD-5 revisions

read about polysubstance abuse and codes…