DHB doesn't keep data on 'drunk' admissions

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 09:22 12/08/2014

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A Marlborough addiction worker is questioning why the region's health board does not keep specific records on the number of drunk people needing help at emergency departments.

Lois Millar, manager of St Mark's alcohol and drug treatment centre in Blenheim, said addiction was a mental illness and should be treated like any other illness.

Fairfax asked the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board under the Official Information Act for a breakdown of alcohol-related emergency presentations at Blenheim's Wairau Hospital in the past year.

Board chief executive Chris Fleming said that the board did not collect specific statistics on the number or age of people who came into ED while intoxicated.

Millar said she wanted to know if people who went to the emergency department while under the influence of alcohol and drugs were disadvantaged because specific records were not being kept.

"I'm interested in why they don't collate these statistics - are there other groups or sectors of the community that are also not collated, or is it just alcohol and drugs," she said.

"I also wonder if it's anything to do with the stigma attached to people who are dependent on alcohol and drugs."

People who went to hospital when drunk should be treated the same as someone who went with a suspected heart condition and records should be kept accordingly, Millar said.

"They should treat it the same as people who come in with flu symptoms."

A Ministry of Health spokesman said the ministry was working with health boards and looking at collecting national data about alcohol involvement in ED presentations.

A spokeswoman for Marlborough's alcohol and drug service would not comment as the service was part of the district health board.

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- The Marlborough Express

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