One in seven patients entering hospital emergency departments on Australia Day were there because of alcohol-related harm, research by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine has found.
The largest snapshot survey of its kind undertaken in Australia and the first to investigate the relationship between alcohol-related harm and Australia Day, it found that 15% of patients across 100 emergency departments were there because of alcohol.
In some parts of Western Australia and Queensland, about 30% of emergency department visits on Australia Day were alcohol-related, the study found.
The figures revealed a “huge and entirely unnecessary burden being placed on our already over-stretched emergency departments”, the study’s lead researcher said.
The study results underline the urgent need for government action on extended trading hours, low prices and heavy advertising of alcohol, all factors known to contribute to alcohol harm. Evidence shows that for every additional late trading hour, there’s a 20% increase in serious assaults and injuries.
Prof Drew Richardson, the survey’s lead researcher, said the findings revealed a “massive” public health problem, and a threat to the safety of hospital staff.