Wednesday 12 December 2018

Revealed: Binge-drinking behind a third of weekend A&E visits

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Binge-drinking revellers and the victims of other people's booze-filled actions are clogging up A&E departments at weekends, a new study has revealed.

The first research to capture the scale of the burden shows nearly one-third of patient attendances on Saturday night and Sunday morning were alcohol-related.

The youngest patient who was injured due to an adult's intoxication was just 11 months old, the research led by Galway University Hospital emergency department revealed.

More than half were brought to hospital by ambulance - but a high proportion of those who were drunk left before being seen by a doctor.

Transported

The patients who had drink on them were 50pc more likely to be transported to hospital by ambulance, the findings in 'BMJ Open' showed.

The alcohol-related patients were more likely to be men and they were more likely to attend on early hours of Sunday morning. More than six in 10 of the patients were drunk.

In all 3,139 patients attending A&Es over four specified six-hour periods were investigated and more than one in 20 was there due to alcohol.

The oldest of the alcohol-related patients was 85 years of age.

Many suffered direct injuries or accidents after being involved in road traffic smashes, drowning, burns, poisoning and falls.

The proportion of alcohol-related patients who were admitted to a ward was 17.5pc compared with 26.5pc of people who were in A&E for normal emergency care.

The survey included children's hospitals and 10 of the alcohol-related patients were young teenagers.

Dr Brian McNicholl, emergency consultant in University Hospital Galway, said: "We know alcohol is a problem in emergency departments at certain times but we need to know more about this to work out what needs to be done. We confirmed that the people coming to us with alcohol-related presentations are more likely to be male, arrive by ambulance, leave without being seen by a doctor, and to leave against medical advice."

Dr Diarmuid O'Donovan, director of Public Health in the HSE West, warned: "We need to do more to prevent alcohol-related harm, and to have better services for people who have alcohol problems so that people don't end up in emergency departments."

Irish Independent

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