Almost one in 20 patients presented to Monash Health emergency departments following alcohol use, new figures show. On weekends, this doubled to 1 in 10 patients.
And the peak body for emergency medicine in Australia and New Zealand is using the latest data to call for more to be done to stop the harm caused by alcohol.
Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) President Dr Simon Judkins said: “Alcohol-related presentations are one of the largest, preventable public health issues facing emergency departments.
“The impact of alcohol-related presentations on ED functioning, ED clinical staff and other patients attending EDs cannot be underestimated.”
ACEM supports the advocacy efforts of partner groups such as The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and the Alcohol Policy Coalition, which call for liquor law reforms and to consider the wider health, social and economic impacts of alcohol harm.
“ACEM will continue to work with relevant stakeholders in the alcohol policy arena to address alcohol harm in our neighbourhoods,” Dr Judkins said. “ACEM considers that regulation of the sale, promotion and service of alcohol is an issue of health and community safety.”
Driving Change: Using emergency department data to reduce alcohol-related harm
The Driving Change project is a collaboration between ACEM, Deakin University and nine participating hospitals, including Clayton, Casey and Dandenong Hospital emergency departments. It is collecting data currently not available by ED staff briefly questioning patients about where they bought and consumed their last drink before coming to harm.
It found that between 4% and 5% of all attendances across the three emergency departments reported consuming alcohol in the preceding 12 hours. On weekends, this increased to 10%, or 1 in 10 patients.
At least 6 of every 10 patients who reported alcohol consumption said they had purchased their alcohol from packaged liquor outlets (i.e. bottle shops).
Presentations included injuries related to falls, assaults and glassing, and intoxication and alcohol poisoning.
“What is clear is that Australia needs to undertake a cultural shift in its relationship with alcohol. Emergency physicians see this issue play out in EDs across Australia 24/7, 356 days of the year. It has to stop,” Dr Judkins said.
ACEM is the peak body for emergency medicine in Australia and New Zealand, responsible for training emergency physicians and advancement of professional standards. www.acem.org.au
Driving Change is a collaboration between ACEM and nine participating hospitals in Melbourne, Geelong, Sydney, Canberra and Warrnambool and Deakin University, Central Queensland University, the University of New South Wales, Australian National University and Cardiff University (Wales). The project is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and St Vincent’s Hospitals Australia. More details are on the Deakin University website.
Data was collected from Clayton, Casey and Dandenong Hospital emergency departments between 1 April 2018 and 30 June 2018.