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Prevalence of alcohol related attendance at an inner city emergency department and its impact: a dual prospective and retrospective cohort study

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kathryn Parkinson, Professor Dorothy Newbury-Birch, Angela Phillipson, Paul Hindmarch, Professor Eileen KanerORCiD, Elaine Stamp, Professor Luke ValeORCiD, Dr John Wright, James Connolly



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Background Alcohol related hospital attendances are a potentially avoidable burden on emergency departments (EDs). Understanding the number and type of patients attending EDs with alcohol intoxication is important in estimating the workload and cost implications. We used best practice from previous studies to establish the prevalence of adult alcohol related ED attendances and estimate the costs of clinical management and subsequent health service use.Methods The setting was a large inner city ED in northeast England, UK. Data were collected via (i) retrospective review of hospital records for all ED attendances for four pre-specified weeks in 2010/2011 to identify alcohol related cases along with 12 months of follow-up of the care episode and (ii) prospective 24/7 assessment via breath alcohol concentration testing of patients presenting to the ED in the corresponding weeks in 2012/2013.Results The prevalence rates of alcohol related attendances were 12% and 15% for the retrospective and prospective cohorts, respectively. Prospectively, the rates ranged widely from 4% to 60% across week days, rising to over 70% at weekends. Younger males attending in the early morning hours at weekends made up the largest proportion of alcohol related attendances. The mean cost per attendance was 249 pound (SD 1064); pound the mean total cost for those admitted was 851 pound (SD 2549) pound. The most common reasons for attending were trauma related injuries followed by psychiatric problems.Conclusions Alcohol related attendances are a major and avoidable burden on emergency care. However, targeted interventions at weekends and early morning hours could capture the majority of cases and help prevent future re-attendance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Parkinson K, Newbury-Birch D, Phillipson A, Hindmarch P, Kaner E, Stamp E, Vale L, Wright J, Connolly J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Emergency Medicine Journal

Year: 2016

Volume: 33

Issue: 3

Pages: 187-193

Print publication date: 01/03/2016

Online publication date: 23/12/2015

Acceptance date: 07/10/2015

Date deposited: 25/04/2016

ISSN (print): 1472-0205

ISSN (electronic): 1472-0213

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1136/emermed-2014-204581


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Funder referenceFunder name
FSF1112Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: Flexibility and Sustainability Funding