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Study shows more than one in 20 ED cases are alcohol-related

The study included every emergency department in Ireland.

Staff examined the notes of every person over the same four six-hour periods to identify alcohol related presentations.

The busiest time was Saturday night and Sunday morning when 29 per cent of people coming to Irish emergency departments were alcohol-related. 

Dr Brian McNicholl, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at University Hospital Galway, one of the authors of the study who organised the collection of information from all the EDs with the help of the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine, said:

“We know alcohol is a problem in emergency departments at certain times but we need to know more about this to work out what needs to be done. We don’t have a nationally agreed way to collect this information so we developed a method with the help of colleagues all over the country. We confirmed that the people coming to us with alcohol related presentations are more likely to be male, arrive by ambulance, leave without being seen by a doctor, and to leave against medical advice.”

Meanwhile, latest drug treatment figures from the Health Research Board (HRB) show that a total of 63,187 cases were treated for problem drug use (excluding alcohol) in Ireland between 2010 and 2016. Treated cases increased from 8,806 cases in 2010, to 9,227 in 2016. 


Commenting on some of the trends in the paper, Dr Suzi Lyons, Senior Researcher at the HRB said:

“There are changes in the types of drugs reported. Opiates remain the main problem drug over the period, but they have decreased as a proportion of all cases treated, from 58 per cent in 2010 to 47 per cent in 2016. Meanwhile the proportion of all cases that report cocaine, cannabis and benzodiazepines have increased.

“Since 2014 there has been a steady increase in the proportion of cases reporting cocaine as a main problem drug, rising from 8 per cent (708 cases) of all cases in 2013 to 12 per cent (1,138 cases) of all cases in 2016. This rise is seen in both new and previously treated cases. There has been an increase in the proportion of cases who were female, from 14 per cent in 2010 to 23 per cent in 2016.”

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