Dec 19, 2017

Hospital emergency departments being swamped by drunk revellers across the nation

Angira Bharadwaj, The Daily Telegraph

EMERGENCY departments are being swamped by drunk revellers, with Australian’s love of “celebrating everything” to blame.

A snapshot of the nation’s hospitals at 2am on Saturday revealed 1 in 8 emergency department patients were there because of booze.

And in NSW the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine survey found that about 1 in 10 patients were in emergency because of alcohol.

Lead researcher Professor Drew Richardson said the survey of 152 emergency departments across the nation revealed alcohol was to blame for 17 per cent of patients waiting to be seen, 13 per cent being treated and almost 10 per cent of short-stay unit patients.

This included those too drunk to go home and others suffering injuries because of alcohol-related violence.

“The staff are busy enough without having to put up with people who don’t need to be there and have inflicted this on themselves,” Prof Richardson said.

“There were two hospitals that each had 15 patients there due to alcohol, which is really appalling, and there was one hospital where over 70 per cent of the people in the emergency department at that time were there because of alcohol.”

Prof Richardson said major city hospitals had large numbers of alcohol-affected patients due to nearby pubs.

ACEM president Simon Judkins said the government needs to intervene to stop booze-related patients clogging emergency departments and counteract the nation’s drinking culture.

“We certainly have a culture of using alcohol to celebrate everything from a sporting event to the birth of a baby,” Mr Judkins said.

“It’s a seven-day-a-week, 24/7 problem and the reason we chose two o’clock in the morning is probably to capture that weekend sort of binge drinking culture that we have.”

Mr Judkins said not only are intoxicated patients taking up hospital resources but they can also be violent towards doctors and nurses.

“I think we just need to be more upfront about the significant downsides of alcohol consumption and look at legislative change,” he said.

Read the full article here.