Alcohol Emergency Room Visits Triple in UK

Alcohol-related emergency-room visits tripled at a London hospital in the year after the U.K. allowed alcohol sales 24 hours a day, the BBC reported July 18.

At London’s St. Thomas Hospital, there were 80 alcohol-related ER visits in March 2005, prior to enactment of the more liberal Licensing Act. In March 2006, the hospital had 250 alcohol-related ER visits.

“If reproduced over longer time periods and across the U.K. as a whole, the additional numbers of patients presenting to emergency care could be very substantial,” the researchers wrote, adding that the findings, “indicate that the legislation has had the opposite effect to that intended” — which was to reduce alcohol-related problems fueled by early pub closing times.

Alcohol-related ER visits went from 3 percent of total visits to 8 percent. Some observers said that the increase could be due to greater awareness among doctors about alcohol problems and may not be reflective of trends across the country.

The study was reported in the Emergency Medicine Journal.

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