Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

The role of alcohol in health costs

This blog post brought to mind a dear friend of mine, deceased now about 8 years. She was staying at our house, basically to get out of an abusive relationship. She had a myriad of health problems…Once I came home and she was passed out. I thought it was one of her many medical conditions that was the main factor…and somehow with the help of neighbors got her in my car and we sped to the emergency room. To make a long story short, it turned out her blood alcohol was extremely high….I know now the alcoholism not only “translated” into high medical costs for her, but also a short life.
May she rest in peace, rest in peace….

From the 6 January 2012 post by EDMUND KWOK, MD at KevinMD.com

Defined as someone “having the faculties impaired by alcohol, those of us who work in an acute healthcare facility are witness to many illustrious examples of drunk patients coming through our doors.

 

Underaged kids passed out at a house party? Yup. Raging alcoholics who are brought into the ER at least once a week? Sure. Elderly women who secretly binges on wine at home and falls down the stairs repeatedly? You betcha. What they all have in common is an apparent complete oblivion/ignorance to the source of the problem, and the associated ill effects on themselves.

Sometimes I wonder if the healthcare/political/legal system itself is “drunk”, in its own oblivion and inaction towards the impact alcohol abuse is having on our society.

The average sober Canadian would be shocked to hear of the types of alcohol-related ER visits that come through a hospital’s doors every weekend.

Empirical data supports this theory of absurd and inefficient healthcare dollar usage on alcohol abuse related hospital visits. As reported in the Recommendations for a National Alcohol Strategy published in 2007, “the economic impact of alcohol-related harm in Canada totaled $14.6B, taking into account the costs associated with lost productivity, health care, and enforcement. This amount is slightly less than the estimated cost of tobacco at $17B, but nearly double the cost attributed to illegal drugs at $8.2B”.

Anecdotal evidence reports many unnecessary ER visits where drunk patients simply take up an acute care bed for the night to sober up, eat a free breakfast in the morning and then get discharged. It is estimated that 0.6% of all U.S. ER visits are made by people who have no other problems beside being drunk, translating to over 900 million dollars just for ER visits alone….

 

 

 

January 7, 2013 - Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, health care | , , , , , ,

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