Booze has been a bigger problem for emergency departments than ice and other drugs according to Ballarat Base Hospital staff.
One in eight patients presenting to the hospital’s emergency department on December 16 were affected by alcohol, according to an Australian College for Emergency Medicine study into alcohol harm
The figure was equal to 9.8 per cent of patients in Victoria.
Ballarat base nurse unit manager Kirsty McLean said alcohol continued to be a problem for health services, despite some improvement in drinking habits.
“Ballarat has a bigger alcohol problem than ice I would say, from a nursing perspective,” she said.
Ms McLean said alcohol caused a wide range of health problems, from accidents and car crashes, to stomach ulcers and other physical conditions.
However in a sign of improving drinking habits, the number of cases have also dropped when compared to previous studies.
Other emergency departments also fared worse than Ballarat, with some states reporting one in six patients affected by alcohol.
Ballarat base Emergency Department director Dr Pauline Chapman said alcohol related incidents took up a lot of time for staff.
“We don’t judge people who come in, and alcohol is a legal drug, but it takes up a lot of resources,” she said,
“They (the patient) can be violent or aggressive, in a similar way to other drugs.”
Dr Chapman said there had been a lot of educational work completed in schools to make people aware of the risks posed by drinking.
“It is socially acceptable and we talk about how every major event has alcohol available – births, deaths and marriages,” she said.
“We have seen progress and we meet with schools kids to talk about safe partying and drinking.”
The December 16 study was the fourth time the Australian College for Emergency Medicine has investigated the number of patients affected by booze.
It revealed Western Australia had the highest rate of alcohol related presentations.
WA was closely followed by the ACT, Northern Territory and Tasmania. South Australia and Queensland were next, while NSW ranked the best, along with Victoria.