11 Dec 2014

Alcohol lead cause of emergency admissions

7:51 pm on 11 December 2014

A survey of more than 120 emergency departments across New Zealand and Australia has shown alcohol harm as a lead cause for admissions.

Beer in glass.

Photo: AFP

The survey, commissioned by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, showed one in eight people were in emergency departments as a direct or indirect result of alcohol harm, on 6 December at 2am.

Lead researcher Dr Diana Egerton-Warburton described the findings as worrying and shocking.

"With and overall rate of one in eight it's quite shocking, I mean it's the equivalent of almost 400 patients across Australia and New Zealand at one time presenting due to one cause, which is alcohol."

She said there were hot-spot emergency departments that have higher alcohol harm-related numbers than the one in eight statistic across both countries in all areas, regardless of their economic status.

Affected patients could be violent and aggressive towards staff and other patients.

"We had one example of an elderly man who was having a heart attack but he was frightened to tell the nurses that he was having chest pain because he didn't want to disturb the drunk, aggressive man in the cubicle next to him."

The authors of the survey wanted to highlight the problem emergency staff were facing.

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