Does a higher local alcohol tax mean fewer ER visits?

The factors that influence visits to the emergency department are not only greatly varied in a given area, but change depending on time of year, region and a myriad other contributing forces. However, sometimes isolating one of these measures to try to better understand how it affects overall rates of ER visitation can produce interesting results. In a British study recently published in the BMJ Injury Prevention, researchers looked at how alcohol prices in England and Wales may have affected ER visits across 100 hospitals in the U.K.

Researchers analyzed data from ER visits that took place between January 2005 and December 2012. After controlling for the effects of regional poverty, income inequality, seasonal effects and other factors, they determined a 1 percent increase in alcohol prices above inflation could result in an estimated 6,000 fewer violence-related ED visits per year. In the U.K., a fifth of all injuries that stem from violence require medical attention, according to the authors.

"[B]y identifying a significant inverse relationship between rates of violence-related ED attendance and the price of alcohol in England and Wales, this study has provided evidence which makes a causal relationship between alcohol consumption and violence more feasible; causation can be understood as running from alcohol price to alcohol consumption and from alcohol consumption to acts of violence," the authors concluded.

More articles on patient flow:

ED use in the 5 largest states: 4 key findings
Deaths increase 7 months after SD hospital's ER closed
OIG investigation finds Houston VA facilities faked patient appointment data 

 

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