By Andrew Starke

Only five percent of patients treated at New South Wales emergency rooms as alcohol-related admissions had been injured in licensed premises, according to new research by the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation (AER).

However the study found that drinking at licensed venues doubled the risk of injury.

Commissioned and funded by AER, the report measured the impact of alcohol on select NSW hospitals public hospitals ‐ Bankstown, Bowral, Campbelltown, Fairfield and RPA hospitals ‐ with an effective sample size of 6,396 subjects, making this the largest study of its kind.

Nearly 80 percent of alcohol-related injuries needing hospital admission were considered serious or life threatening.

In a third of the cases falls were the main cause of injury, followed by ‘being hit against something’ and ‘being cut or pierced.’

Additionally, the study reveals that the majority of injuries (39.6 percent) presenting to the Emergency Departments had been sustained at home or in other accommodation.

In 38.2 percent of incidents the injured person had been alone or with family (22.5 percent) or friends (25.9 percent).

Just under half had been drinking at home but the risk of injury was increased by 52 percent when drinking at a licensed premises, such as a hotel, tavern, nightclub or sports club.

According to AER director, Professor Ian Webster, each year approximately 3,500 Australians die as a result of excessive alcohol consumption and 65,000 people are hospitalised.

“This study continues to reveal alcohol abuse as a major healthcare issue, as these patients are adding to the already strained hospital system in Sydney,” said Webster.

“Responsibility for alcohol‐related injuries and harm minimisation should be shared between a number of groups, both in and outside of the alcohol industry.”

“The increasing availability of alcohol at low prices, along with late trading hours for licensed premises are key contributors to the problem,” he continued. “There is also a positive correlation between injury and the concentration of outlets in one particular area.”

AER chairman Scott Wilson cited the need for more initiatives, such as the Linking Program – a collaboration between the Police, AER and licensed premises in NSW.

“There is a need for further ‘linking projects’ that help us determine the health impact and the source of these harms,” Wilson said. “Policing ‘high risk’ premises more closely has led to significant reduction in the number of alcohol‐related incidents and accidents, proving that potential benefits that could be derived from enforcing liquor licensing regulations more stringently and in a more targeted way.”

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The Shout Team

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