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Research Article

Alcohol and the emergency service patient.

Br Med J 1980; 281 doi: (Published 06 September 1980) Cite this as: Br Med J 1980;281:638
  1. S Holt,
  2. I C Stewart,
  3. J M Dixon,
  4. R A Elton,
  5. T V Taylor,
  6. K Little


    To determine the prevalence of alcohol use in casualty patients breath-alcohol analysis was performed on 702 patients attending the accident and emergency department of a large teaching hospital during the evening. Forty per cent of patients had consumed alcohol before attending and 32% had a blood alcohol concentration exceeding 17.4 mmol/l (80 mg/100 ml). Clinical assessment of intoxication resulted in a false-negative diagnosis in 10% of inebriated patients, indicating that an objective measurement of the blood alcohol concentration by a test, such as breath-alcohol analysis, may be of additional value. These findings confirm that a high proportion of emergency-service patients are affected by alcohol and suggest that alcoholism treatment facilities need to be integrated with accident and emergency services.