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Ten-year trends in intoxications and requests for emergency ambulance service


Holzer, Barbara M; Minder, Christoph E; Schätti, Gabriela; Rosset, Nina; Battegay, Edouard; Müller, Stefan; Zimmerli, Lukas (2012). Ten-year trends in intoxications and requests for emergency ambulance service. Prehospital Emergency Care, 16(4):497-504.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:Intoxication, whether from alcohol, drugs, or alcohol and drugs in combination, remains a challenging burden on emergency departments. The increasing alcohol consumption among adolescents and young adults, particularly heavy episodic drinking, and the resulting increase in the use of health care resources for alcohol intoxication has been a widely discussed topic.
OBJECTIVE:The aim of our study was to assess and characterize the use of emergency ambulance services that was required as a result of alcohol and drug intoxication in a major metropolitan area.
METHODS:We conducted a retrospective, longitudinal study over a 10-year period in the greater metropolitan area of Zurich, Switzerland. The study population included intoxicated patients assessed and initially treated by paramedics of the emergency ambulance service. Data were extracted from the ambulance service reports. The primary outcomes measured were trends over time in the numbers and types of intoxication and trends with respect to gender and age distributions of intoxicated patients.
RESULTS:An annual increase of about 5% in the number of intoxicated patients requiring emergency ambulance service was observed over the study period. Alcohol use was present in 73% of the cases. The highest number of cases was among patients 25-44 years of age. The greatest increase in the number of cases over time was among patients under 25 years of age. Women comprised 41% of the patients under 25 years of age but only about 35% of older patients. The number of severe injuries and suicide attempts was small, but the number of suicide attempts increased at a higher rate than the overall number of cases of intoxication. There was a significant increase (17.64% per year on average) in the incidence of aggressive behavior toward paramedics from intoxicated patients, although still small in numbers.
CONCLUSIONS:Our findings suggest two main vulnerable groups: young persons under 25 years of age, with a particular focus on women, having the greatest increase over time, and middle-aged men, having the greatest proportion among all cases observed. Intervention efforts should include a high-risk approach to reduce alcohol-related problems. Key words: alcohol intoxication; substance-related disorders; aggression; injuries; emergency medical services.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:Intoxication, whether from alcohol, drugs, or alcohol and drugs in combination, remains a challenging burden on emergency departments. The increasing alcohol consumption among adolescents and young adults, particularly heavy episodic drinking, and the resulting increase in the use of health care resources for alcohol intoxication has been a widely discussed topic.
OBJECTIVE:The aim of our study was to assess and characterize the use of emergency ambulance services that was required as a result of alcohol and drug intoxication in a major metropolitan area.
METHODS:We conducted a retrospective, longitudinal study over a 10-year period in the greater metropolitan area of Zurich, Switzerland. The study population included intoxicated patients assessed and initially treated by paramedics of the emergency ambulance service. Data were extracted from the ambulance service reports. The primary outcomes measured were trends over time in the numbers and types of intoxication and trends with respect to gender and age distributions of intoxicated patients.
RESULTS:An annual increase of about 5% in the number of intoxicated patients requiring emergency ambulance service was observed over the study period. Alcohol use was present in 73% of the cases. The highest number of cases was among patients 25-44 years of age. The greatest increase in the number of cases over time was among patients under 25 years of age. Women comprised 41% of the patients under 25 years of age but only about 35% of older patients. The number of severe injuries and suicide attempts was small, but the number of suicide attempts increased at a higher rate than the overall number of cases of intoxication. There was a significant increase (17.64% per year on average) in the incidence of aggressive behavior toward paramedics from intoxicated patients, although still small in numbers.
CONCLUSIONS:Our findings suggest two main vulnerable groups: young persons under 25 years of age, with a particular focus on women, having the greatest increase over time, and middle-aged men, having the greatest proportion among all cases observed. Intervention efforts should include a high-risk approach to reduce alcohol-related problems. Key words: alcohol intoxication; substance-related disorders; aggression; injuries; emergency medical services.

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11 citations in Web of Science®
10 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic and Policlinic for Internal Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:30 Nov 2012 07:02
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:07
Publisher:Informa Healthcare
Series Name:Prehospital Emergency Care
ISSN:1090-3127
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3109/10903127.2012.695437
PubMed ID:22838502

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