More Christmas revellers winding up in hospital

Doctor says the number of drunken party-goers landing in the emergency ward is on the rise

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 December, 2013, 5:15am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 December, 2013, 5:15am

Queen Mary Hospital says it is seeing an increasing number of drunken revellers in its emergency ward at this time of year.

Last year, the Pok Fu Lam hospital treated nine party-goers on Christmas Eve, one of its doctors said yesterday.

In 2010, there was just one such patient.

And on New Year's Eve last year, the number was 16 - compared with 13 in 2010.

Most of these patients had been brought to hospital by ambulance, at best half-conscious, from Lan Kwai Fong or bar areas in Sai Wan, said Matthew Tsui Sik-hon, chief of service for the hospital's accident and emergency department.

Tsui added that the number of revellers tended to increase on weekend nights and festivals, but they usually had two to four per night on other days.

He said it took staff longer and more effort to tend to such patients, which depleted resources on the night shift when there were fewer staff working. Almost half of the patients who had drunk too much turned up with symptoms such as gastrointestinal bleeding or self-injuries, especially to the head, Tsui said. Sometimes patients were violent, and drugs added to the cocktail, he said.

In one case, a drunken man kicked down a door in the emergency ward and it took four staff to subdue him, Tsui said.

Another patient needed brain surgery after he fell to the ground and hit his head, causing haemorrhaging.

"You are particularly vulnerable when drunk," Tsui said.

"Unlike those who are sober, if drunken people are pushed, they don't have the ability to hold themselves up."

Tsui said the hospital would have more staff on deck tonight to cope with any drunken revellers. He said such patients with acute symptoms would normally be treated within 30 minutes in the emergency ward.

But Tsui had this advice for people out celebrating tonight: say "no" to drinking challenges; avoid drinks that have been given to you and may have been spiked; and refrain from using drugs.

He said the Auxiliary Medical Service would also set up booths in the city's popular bar areas to assess any revellers who needed medical help.

Tsui noted that excessive alcohol consumption could cause breathing difficulties and loss of consciousness.

And he also dispelled the myth that people get more intoxicated when they mix their drinks - jumping from beer to wine or spirits - saying there was no scientific basis to it.