The burden of alcohol misuse on an inner-city general hospital

QJM. 2000 May;93(5):291-5. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/93.5.291.


Alcohol consumption in the UK has been increasing steadily. We prospectively studied the burden on hospital services caused by overt alcohol misuse, in an inner-city hospital in north-west England. All Accident & Emergency (A&E) patients were assessed to determine whether their hospital attendance was alcohol-related, and whether this resulted in admission and/or generated new out-patient appointments. Over 2 months, 1915 patients attended A&E with alcohol-related problems, accounting for 12% of attendances; 50% were aged 18-39 years, and acute alcohol intoxication was the commonest presenting complaint. Overall, 6.2% of all hospital admissions were due to alcohol-related problems. Over 2800 new out-patient visits were likely to have been generated over an 18-month period from initial attendance with an alcohol-related problem, mostly for orthopaedic clinics. The burden placed by overt alcohol-related problems on hospitals is enormous, both in terms of the emergency and out-patient services. The implementation of education, screening and intervention strategies in A&E departments, and employment of key trained personnel, should be considered, to optimize the clinical management of these patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / complications
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hospitals, General / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution
  • Urban Health Services / statistics & numerical data*