Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

ED doctors sick of 'bloody idiots' make plea to drinkers

As many as one in three patients in some emergency departments are there because of alcohol. Photo / Dean Purcell
As many as one in three patients in some emergency departments are there because of alcohol. Photo / Dean Purcell

A Friday-night assault of a Waikato businessman, now in a coma, is another example of unnecessary violence fuelled by alcohol, a top emergency department doctor says.

Dr John Bonning, clinical director at Waikato Hospital ED and a representative of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, is pleading for Kiwis to think before they drink these holidays.

Dealing with drunken patients, along with those needlessly injured after drinking, had become a frustrating reality for staff in EDs around the country, especially during the holiday period, Dr Bonning told the Herald.

A recent snapshot survey revealed one in five patients in New Zealand EDs attended as the result of the harmful use of alcohol, and in some hot spots, as many as one in three patient attendances were alcohol-related.

Find out how bars spot, and deal, with a drunk here.

"Emergency physicians are sick and tired of dealing with the bloody idiots who drink alcohol to excess," said Dr Diana Egerton-Warburton, chairwoman of the college's public health committee and a principal investigator in the study.

"Imagine attending an ED with a sick child or elderly relative, when one in three patients there are affected by alcohol. It's more like a pub than a hospital."

The college recommended holiday revellers drink in moderation, with a limit, or starting with water and alternate non-alcoholic drinks with alcoholic beverages.

Meanwhile, police were happy to see less alcohol-related harm last weekend than in previous weekends this month after new laws came into force.

Included in the new regulations is a closing time for bars of 4am and increased powers for police to issue infringement notices for offences such as breaching alcohol bans, lending an under-18 identification and presenting fake ID.

"It is very early days," Inspector Ben Offner said, "but the signs are positive that the legislation will reduce alcohol-related harm in our community."

- NZ Herald

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