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Survey of alcohol-related presentations to Australasian emergency departments

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Alcohol consumption in excess of that recommended in the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) alcohol guidelines1 is the norm in Australia.2 One in five Australians and New Zealanders drink at a level that increases their lifetime risk of alcohol-related disease or injury.3,4 Almost half of Australians aged over 18 years (44.7%) reported consuming an amount of alcohol on a single occasion in the preceding year that put them at an increased risk of acute injury.3

Emergency physicians are at the forefront of responding to and treating the consequences of alcohol-related harm. This ranges from treating alcohol intoxication and severe injuries sustained as a direct result of intoxication, to managing the acute complications of chronic alcohol-related conditions. While emergency departments (EDs) anecdotally see a high proportion of patients with alcohol-related injuries and conditions, there are very few national or state and territory prevalence data.

At present, it is not mandatory for Australian or New Zealand EDs to screen for or collect alcohol-related presentation data. Consequently, attempts to quantify alcohol-related presentations to EDs through existing datasets are likely to provide underestimates.

The literature…