Alcohol to blame for quarter of emergency room visits

  • 20/12/2016
A hospital
Hospital (Getty)

Emergency room doctors are calling for changes to alcohol laws following a survey that's found nearly one in four emergency department (ED) patients are there because of booze.

A snapshot of every New Zealand emergency department by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine has found a quarter of patients were there because of alcohol-related issues.

That compares to one in seven when the survey was conducted last year.

Waikato Hospital emergency department clinical director John Bonning said the results were " absolutely diabolical".

"The level of harm these people cause to their own health is bad enough but they also divert time and resources from other patients, including older people and young children," he said.

"They put an undue strain on our emergency departments and can be rude, aggressive, or - in the worst circumstances - even violent towards doctors and nurses."

ACEM president said reducing alcohol harm was complex but there were some clear steps that could be taken by the government.

He said changes to alcohol pricing and advertising laws had been effective in places such as New South Wales.

"Examples from overseas indicate that there is a range of measures that can be pursued to curb the level of harm caused by excessive drinking," he said.

"These include reducing the availability of alcohol, taxation policy, and limiting exposure to advertising."