Quarter of Scots hospital trauma cases have alcohol link

Alcohol is linked to a quarter of all trauma cases seen by Scotland’s hospitals, statistics show.

For major trauma patients, one in three cases were associated with alcohol, with drink having been taken either by the patient themselves or by someone else involved in the incident which led to the hospital admission.

Overall, men make up the majority of trauma patients at 59 per cent, but this rises to 70 per cent when it comes to major trauma patients. The higher proportion of injuries to men was attributed to assaults, falls from a height and road accidents.

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The publication also noted that one hospital, Inverclyde Royal, commissioned an internal review after it was identified as having “a potentially higher than expected mortality rate for trauma patients”.

The health board said some areas for improvement were highlighted by the review but stressed no significant failings in care had been identified.

The official figures, released by ISD Scotland, were contained in an annual report from the Scottish Trauma Audit Group (STAG), which looked at data from 2013 and 2014.

Nineteen out of 32 hospitals with an emergency department submitted data to STAG over that period, providing information on almost 6,000 patients, 22 per cent of which were classified as having “major trauma”.

The report found that death caused by injury “continued to be a major public health issue” for Scotland’s population over that time.

Since a significant reduction in deaths from accidents from the 1970s to the 1990s, accidents as a cause of death were found to have remained fairly static.

“Consequently, the impact of deaths and ongoing morbidity and disability following serious injury remains a great burden for the Scottish National Health Service (NHS) and the population of Scotland,” the report said.

On the link between admissions for serious injuries and alcohol consumption, the publication concluded: “There is evidence to suggest that alcohol was involved in one in five of minor trauma patients rising to one in three of major trauma patients.

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“Alcohol was either ingested by the trauma patient or another person involved in the trauma incident.”

It went on: “Consistently, alcohol continues to be associated with 33 per cent of major trauma patients and 25 per cent of all trauma patients.

“Evidence of involvement of alcohol is nearly twice as common in male trauma patients (31 per cent compared to 16 per cent in females).”

Overall, the data showed that 6 per cent of all trauma patients died in hospital, with the mortality rate rising to around 22 per cent for patients suffering major trauma.

Inverclyde Royal Hospital was identified as having a “potentially higher than expected” mortality rate for trauma patients, the publication said.

As a result, it commissioned an internal review of the result, the report said.

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “We take this issue very seriously and a team of experienced trauma clinicians have already undertaken a detailed review of all trauma patient deaths during 2013/14.

“Their findings have been examined in detail and I am fully reassured that no significant failings in trauma care were identified in any of the cases. However some areas for improvement were highlighted as part of this process and these are being taken forward.

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“We have also put in place new systems for the review and monitoring of future trauma cases by a multidisciplinary group of specialists, and this will continue to be reviewed on an ongoing basis.”