Alcohol violence commonplace in hospitals

Alcohol-fuelled violence is still far too common in New Zealand emergency departments with intoxicated patients frequently hurting themselves.

One in 12 people in Australasian emergency departments are there because of booze, with the sheer volume of patients causing more disruption than those on methamphetamine, according to a 2014 survey.

Many doctors and nurses are still suffering from alcohol-fuelled violence, according to the head of Waikato’s emergency department, Dr John Bonning.

“We often see patients doing harm to themselves, falling over and breaking bones — that’s not unusual,” he said.

“Last weekend I was working with police and saw the kind of alcohol-fuelled violence that needed dogs and Tasers to calm down, it’s terrible.”

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) study monitored eight emergency departments across Australia and New Zealand — screening more than 9600 patients — over a week in December 2014.

The study found one in eight presentations during peak times was alcohol related.

But there has been some progress according to ACEM president Anthony Lawler.

“We are seeing headway, but we’re also seeing harm — too much harm,” he said.

“Since this work was done 18 months ago, ACEM has completed further research — including an Australia Day survey, a 7-Day survey and a snapshot survey — and the data is clear: alcohol is still having a disproportionately severe impact on our EDs.”

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