A pilot study has revealed the similarity of patients presenting themselves at urban minor injuries units with alcohol-related injuries and those receiving emergency care.
A team led by Dr Robert Patton of King’s College London found the number and profile of “hazardous” drinkers turning up to an urban minor injuries unit (MIU) was comparable to that seen in emergency care.
The research, published online in Emergency Medicine Journal, suggests these units are equally suitable for targeted interventions on alcohol.
However a significant minority of emergency nurse practitioners said they believed the MIU was an inappropriate location for offering advice and support to problem drinkers.
The proportion of hazardous drinkers - those drinking quantities which put them at risk of future harm - is broadly similar. Therefore such minor injuries units - which offer rapid treatment to patients with less serious injuries - are likely candidates to host alcohol intervention and brief advice activities, the report said.
The pilot study was conducted by Dr Patton and colleague Dr Manazzah Vohra, who collected data from 192 of the 1,000 adults attending the hospital’s MIU over a period of four weeks.
Of these, 72% admitted to drinking alcohol, with 49% admitting to drinking more than double the daily recommended amount in one session (at least eight or more units for men and six or more for women).
One in three said they consumed this amount on one or more occasion every week while 10 patients (5.3%) attributed their MIU visit to their drinking. A total of 69 patients (36%) were identified as “hazardous” drinkers - yet just 3.3% accepted the offer of help or advice.
MIUs are run by emergency nurse practitioners. The authors noted that four out of the 25 staff said they did not feel the MIU was an appropriate location for offering advice and support to problem drinkers.
However the authors pointed out that such intervention works well in emergency care and recommended that staff are trained to pick up patients who are putting themselves at risk in this way.
- Patton R, et al. Hazardous drinking among patients attending a minor injuries unit: a pilot study. Emergency Medicine Journal 2011; Advance online publication