Problems and costs associated with alcohol and drug abuse in emergency medicine.Eur J Health Econ 2006; 7(3):196-8EJ
Preclinical care refers to patients with life-threatening conditions. It remains unclear how alcohol and drug abuse contribute to the frequency and severity of emergency cases. This study evaluated the influence of these psychotropic substances on preclinical emergencies and the social security costs arising from this. The records of 400 emergency patients were analyzed prospectively regarding type and severity of emergency, intake of psychotropic substances before the emergency, and their influence on patients' outcome. Psychotropics were detected in 19% of patients; 84% of these patients (vs. 55% overall) were scored below 4 (not life threatening) on the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics scale and therefore did not require a physician on-site. Alcohol or drug intake frequently causes emergencies with physicians on-site; retrospectively 84% of these interventions were thus found to be unnecessary, caused by difficulties in recognizing the severity of the disorder, especially in mental or respiratory disorders. Extrapolated to Germany overall this means 675,000 drug-related emergencies yearly, costing euro 310,000,000.