Objective: To determine the age and sex distribution, timing, causes, geographical location, and nature of facial injuries in the UK and to determine the association of these factors with alcohol consumption by the patient or any other involved person.
Design: A 12-section proforma was completed on all patients with facial injuries covering their age and sex, time and day of injury and presentation, the cause and type of injury and where it occurred, the treatment the patient received, any other injuries, and alcohol consumption by the patient and any other involved person. The total attendances for the study week and the catchment population for each A&E department were recorded.
Setting: 163 of the A&E departments in the UK served by 137 of the UK's oral and maxillofacial departments.
Subjects: All patients who presented with facial injuries to these 163 A&E departments in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over the study week from 09.00 hours on Friday 12 September 1997 to 08.59 hours on Friday 19th September 1997.
Results: 6114 patients with facial injuries presented over the week, out of a total of 152,692 A&E attendances. The male:female ratio was 68:32. This rose to 79:21 in assault cases. The mean age of all patients was 25.3 years, of males 23.2 years, and of females 29.8 years. Forty per cent of the facial injuries were caused by falls. A large proportion of these happened to the under-5 age group in the home. Eleven per cent of all falls were associated with alcohol consumption. Twenty-four per cent of the facial injuries were caused by assault. The commonest sites for assault were the street followed by public drinking establishments. More women than men were assaulted at home. Fifty-five per cent of assaults were related to alcohol consumption. Eight per cent of assaults were with bottles or glasses. Five per cent of the facial injuries occurred in road traffic accidents (RTAs). Fifteen per cent of RTA victims had consumed alcohol. The 15-25 age group suffered the greatest number of facial injuries caused by assault and RTAs and had the highest number associated with alcohol consumption. At least 22% of all the facial injuries in all age groups were related to alcohol consumption within 4 hours of the injury. In the over 15 age groups, alcohol consumption was associated with 90% of facial injuries occurring in bars, 45% on the street, and 25% in the home. Assault, RTA and alcohol consumption conveyed an increased risk of serious facial injury.
Conclusions: Campaigns should be instituted to educate young people about the link between excessive alcohol consumption, assault, road traffic accidents and serious facial injury.