Links Found Between Alcohol and Repeat Trauma Patients

According to a recent report by Global News, more than 40 per cent of people who have one alcohol-related trauma repeat their behavior, according to research coming out of the Nova Scotia Trauma Program.

Researchers looked at 11 studies from Australia, Canada, the United States, Italy, Sweden and Finland that examined data related to trauma recidivism and the use of alcohol. Out of 25,107 trauma patients, there were 3,350 patients who were repeatedly admitted to hospital for trauma.

Dr. Rob Green, the director of the Trauma Program, said the 41 per cent of those patients used alcohol.

“Patients who have one alcohol-related trauma, they were repeat offenders and had a second trauma,” he said.

Green said the amount of alcohol consumed by patients ranged from having one drink to alcohol abuse. He calls the number, which is higher than he expected, concerning.

“I’m certainly not condoning the appropriate enjoyment of alcohol but I think alcohol can be abused. It’s a real warning sign when there’s alcohol that is associated with a trauma that requires presentation to an emergency centre.”

The types of trauma range from car-pedestrian collisions to assaults to weapon-related trauma. However, Green said 75 per cent of the trauma recorded were motor-vehicle collisions.

“There are still a significant amount of intoxicated drivers on our roads. We see it almost on a daily basis in our emergency department,” he said.

Green said more emphasis needs to be placed on the sub-group of patients who will have repeated alcohol-related trauma, adding they can place a strain on the healthcare system.

“What it really means is that there’s a gap between how we deal with trauma on a public health basis. If we can predict the populations that are going to have trauma and can intervene somehow, that is one avenue we should look at,” he said.

Green said he plans to reach out to Halifax Regional Police and the Department of Health and Wellness to see what, if any, policies can be put in place to curb this repeat behavior.