18 Dec 2018

One in six ED patients had alcohol-related problems - snapshot

10:06 pm on 18 December 2018

Hospital emergency doctors are urging people to drink in moderation over the holiday, for their safety and that of others.

Women in a bar with beers

The Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority has upheld the council's two-year freeze on new licences in the city centre and 23 priority areas predominantly in south and west Auckland. Photo: 123RF

The Australasian College of Emergency Medicine said a snapshot survey of 20 hospital emergency departments at 2am last Sunday showed one in six patients had gone to the ED with alcohol-related problems.

In Australia the figure was one in seven.

The college's president-elect, John Bonning, of the Waikato Hospital emergency department, said it's not getting any better.

"The 2am snapshot would have predominantly been people that were grossly intoxicated, they're very labour intensive, they're frequently abusive to staff, they sometimes physically abuse staff and then vomit all over the place.

"They both takes resource away from some of the patients that could be considered slightly more deserving and they scare some of them."

He said young people are over-represented in this, but it affects all ages.

"Just pushing it a little bit over the edge with their alcohol consumption and either ending up either unconscious, dangerously so, or injuring themselves, putting their arms through glass windows, cutting tendons and nerves ... or breaking bones that has significant impact for the next few months of their lives."

He said doctors were not suggesting people should abstain from alcohol altogether, but that they if they drink they need to do it responsibly to retain thinking and judgement.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs