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QJM. 2000 May;93(5):291-5.

The burden of alcohol misuse on an inner-city general hospital.

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Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Liverpool, UK.


Alcohol consumption in the UK has been increasing steadily. We prospectively studied the burden on hospital services caused by overt alcohol misuse, in an inner-city hospital in north-west England. All Accident & Emergency (A&E) patients were assessed to determine whether their hospital attendance was alcohol-related, and whether this resulted in admission and/or generated new out-patient appointments. Over 2 months, 1915 patients attended A&E with alcohol-related problems, accounting for 12% of attendances; 50% were aged 18-39 years, and acute alcohol intoxication was the commonest presenting complaint. Overall, 6.2% of all hospital admissions were due to alcohol-related problems. Over 2800 new out-patient visits were likely to have been generated over an 18-month period from initial attendance with an alcohol-related problem, mostly for orthopaedic clinics. The burden placed by overt alcohol-related problems on hospitals is enormous, both in terms of the emergency and out-patient services. The implementation of education, screening and intervention strategies in A&E departments, and employment of key trained personnel, should be considered, to optimize the clinical management of these patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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