The (Pink) Elephant in the A and E Department

  fourm member 09:59 16 May 13
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A consultant anaesthetist once told me that, during his previous shift in a city centre A & E, he had been called in for 12 patients. One a drug 'mule' suffering an overdose after leakage and the other 11 all alcohol related.

Yesterday's extensive coverage of the problems in A & E made no mention of the load created by problems caused by drinking.

Are we still in denial when it comes to the harms caused by alcohol?

  carver 10:33 16 May 13

Blame the government if you want to add alcohol related problems to A&E woes.

They told us that longer opening hours would mean that people could just savour the taste of alcohol for a bit longer but shouldn't mean an increase in usage.

And surely you have to trust what the government of the time says to you.

Might be an advantage if some doctors actually worked longer hours in their surgery's for the money they get from us so people didn't need to go to A&E in the first place.

  Chronos the 2nd 10:38 16 May 13

Are we still in denial when it comes to the harms caused by alcohol?

Of course we are. The cost to society is huge when you factor in all the areas of human life it has an effect on.

Much easier to blame societies ills on smokers and bring in ridiculously pointless legislation aimed at deterring smokers.

  canarieslover 10:49 16 May 13

Consideration must also be given to the growth in population that we have had in the last few years. Locally to me we have had a large influx of Europeans who have needed all the facilities that we have developed over the years. The problem is that we have built housing for them but have not increased the core necessities so overloading of areas like A&E have become commonplace. This has also been aggravated by the selling off of the majority of one local hospital for housing development leaving just enough for consultant clinics and a 'Minor Injuries' centre in place of it's A&E. Waiting times for doctor's appointments have also stretched locally. Unless the facilities are expanded to match the increase in population the waiting times are just going to get longer.

  BT 11:13 16 May 13

"They told us that longer opening hours..."

This isn't the whole problem these days. The youth culture now is to get as drunk as possible on a night out. It usually starts with pre-loading with large amounts of drink before even leaving home and drinking even more while out usually involving downing numerous 'shots' of spirits in quick succession as well as the lager etc.

In my opinion anyone ending up in A&E due to over-indulgence in alcohol should be charged for any treatment they receive.

  fourm member 11:40 16 May 13

'Blame the government if you want to add alcohol related problems to A&E woes.'

What that amounts to is blaming the government for over-estimating the maturity of the population.

BT is right to say that many young people only drink to get drunk. I'm not claiming that getting drunk was not a part of a night out when I was young but it was not the sole aim.

If it was a good night out you might end up having too much but you didn't set out to get drunk at the start of the evening.

  Bing.alau 12:09 16 May 13

I agree with BT that we should be charged for treatment if it is alcohol related. I also think we should be charged for misuse of the 999 phone system. Also of course the calling out of rescue teams and equipment for mountain/cave type rescues. If you indulge in these as sports then your insurance should cover costs. If you are just walking in mountains on a whim and get caught out in bad weather, then you should be charged for being so stupid. If your insurance doesn't cover that then it's hard cheese.

  Woolwell 12:19 16 May 13

You have to change the culture whereby if someone gets drunk its funny or "cool" and is completely acceptable. The culture of drink driving was changed and it should be possible through a combination of education and penalties to make binge drinking become unacceptable.

  fourm member 13:02 16 May 13

That need for a cultural change needs the sort of thing that happened with drunk driving. The driving limit has become a standard for describing alcohol use. If a pedestrian walks off a cliff, the news reports will say that he was found to be X times the drink driving limit. That sort of thing reminds people about the harm of drink-driving.

Any report on A & E departments should talk about how much of their work is drink-related.

The stories, yesterday, included reference to problems with getting doctors to work in A & E. That was the ideal opportunity to ask if they don't want to spend their time dealing with drunks.

  john bunyan 15:24 16 May 13

A friend, recently retired as a Prof of A&E at St Mary's Paddington has written extensively on this issue, and has developed a test to detect alcoholics who visit A&E with the object of getting them to have treatment. See, for example : Paddington Test

I think, in places where there are frequent episodes of drunks, a triage nurse should - maybe in a marquee annexe - quickly assess drunks and where clinically possible put them at the back of the queue, and also only treat them on a private basis if they attend a second time. Also they should be charged for the ambulance.

  Woolwell 15:39 16 May 13

Putting a person who is very drunk at the back of the queue is quite difficult as a drunk needs constant watching in case of inhaling vomit or losing consciousness due to alcohol poisoning. They can be an absolute nuisance to everyone around and getting rid of them quickly may help all of the others.

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