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Avoidable alcohol related injuries are overloading our emergency health services

19 December 2013

A snap survey conducted by the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine (ACEM) in 92 Australian Emergency Departments (EDs) at the weekend, found that 1 in 7 patients attended as a result of the harmful use of alcohol and as many as 1 in 3 in some places.

Emergency Physician and AMA Victoria President, Dr Stephen Parnis said that alcohol related injuries were an increasing and unnecessary burden on already overstretched EDs.

“Everyday EDs are struggling to cope with patients suffering alcohol related trauma, injury and violence. I often spend my time dealing with alcohol related patients, which can affect the time we can provide to others. It is an utterly avoidable tragedy.

The survey showed that alcohol can put as many as 400 people in Australian hospital Emergency Departments at any one time.

AMA Victoria – a member of The Victorian Alcohol Policy Coalition – has consistently expressed a strong position that the harm caused by alcohol in the Victorian community must be addressed.

We would like to see alcohol marketing techniques aimed at youth banned and to raise awareness of the dangers of excessive alcohol use amongst adolescents and young adults.

“This is a responsibility for the whole community, it is about making alcohol abuse unacceptable, Dr Parnis said.

In Victoria the negative health and social consequences of alcohol are enormous and increasing. 

  • In the past 10 years alcohol has been linked to 25% of hospitalisations and 15% of deaths in young people aged 15–24.
  • Between 2000-01 and 2010-11, alcohol related ambulance attendances tripled and alcohol related assaults increased by 49 per cent.
  • Admission rates for alcohol related conditions – mainly alcohol dependence, acute intoxication and liver disease – have climbed for more than a decade
  • Extreme risky drinking is increasing among young Victorians: two in five 15-25 year olds report drinking the equivalent of a bottle of spirits on a single occasion.
  • Last year, Victorians were taken into police custody 14,000 times for being drunk, and over 12,000 on-the-spot fines were issued for being drunk in public.

The number of active liquor licences in Victoria (more than 20000) is the highest of any Australian state.

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Media contact
Felicity Ryan
Media & Public Affairs Officer
Australian Medical Association Victoria
Telephone: (03) 9280 8753
Mobile: 0437 450 506
Email:
felicityr@amavic.com.au

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