Aims: To identify in-patient emergency admissions to acute hospitals of residents from a health board region in the Republic of Ireland with an acute alcohol intoxication diagnosis; to profile the admissions and to assess whether the increase in alcohol consumption in Ireland has been mirrored by an increase in alcohol related emergency admissions over the same time period.
Design: A retrospective review of hospital admissions using Hospital In-Patient Enquiry (HIPE) data and alcohol consumption trends using data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
Setting: Acute hospitals in the Republic of Ireland.
Participants: All residents from a health board region admitted with a recorded alcohol intoxication emergency admission to non-private acute hospitals in Ireland.
Measurements: All in-patient emergency admissions for which an acute alcohol intoxication diagnosis (ICD Codes 303.0 and 305.0) was recorded of residents from one health board region were extracted from the HIPE system for years 1997-2001 inclusive. Pearson's chi2 test was used to compare proportions in groups of categorical data and chi2 test for trend was used to identify linear trends. Age standardized rates were calculated for each year and trend analysis carried out. Demographic data on the patients were also extracted from the database.
Findings: There were 3289 acute alcohol intoxication admissions to acute hospitals of residents from the study region recorded for years 1997-2001 inclusive. There were 777 acute alcohol intoxication admissions in 2001 compared to 432 admissions in 1997, an increase of 80%. Age standardized rates showed a significant increasing linear trend (P < 0.001). Over half the admissions occurred on weekends. The average length of stay was 2.7 days (95% CI 2.5-2.8) with just under a quarter (24.3%) of these admissions being discharged on the same day. The majority of these patients were male (71.5%), 40.9% were under 30 years old and over half (59.4%) were single.
Conclusions: This study shows that alcohol intoxication accounted for a substantial number of emergency in-patient admissions to acute hospitals in one health board region in Ireland and that the age standardized recorded acute alcohol related emergency admission rate increased significantly over the 5-year period, 1997-2001. This increase mirrored the national increase in alcohol consumption over the same time period.