THERE has been a significant decline in the number of critical and serious alcohol-related injuries presenting to St Vincent’s Hospital since the introduction of a “lockouts” at hotels and clubs in the Sydney CBD entertainment precinct, according to research published in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Introduced in February 2014, the NSW Government banned the sale of takeaway alcohol after 10pm, banned the service of “shots” after midnight, instituted a 1.30am to 3.30am lockout at hotels, registered clubs, nightclubs and licensed karaoke bars, and banned all alcohol service from 3am.
The measures were controversial in both the medical and mainstream press, but research reported by Professor Gordian Fulde, Director of the Emergency Department at St Vincent’s, suggests they may be working to reduce major alcohol-related injuries.
Data from the St Vincent’s Emergency Department Information System about injuries classified under Australasian triage categories 1 (immediately life-threatening) and 2 (imminently life-threatening, important time-critical treatment, very severe pain) were analysed for the 12 months before and the 12 months after the 2014 changes to liquor licensing regulations for the Sydney entertainment precinct.
Of 13 110 category 1 and 2 presentations during the 2-year period, 1564 (4.3%) involved patients with an alcohol-related serious injury: 318 (4.9% of all presentations) before the introduction of the new regulations and 246 (3.7%) in the subsequent 12 months.
“The proportion of alcohol-related serious injury presentations was much higher (9.1% of presentations) during the high alcohol time (HAT); 6pm Friday to 6am Sunday than during the rest of the week (3.1%)”, Fulde and his colleagues found.
“After the introduction of the regulatory changes, there was a significant decrease in the number of seriously injured patients during HAT, from 140 presentations (10.4% of presentations) before the change to 106 (7.8%) after their introduction, a relative reduction of 24.8%.
“This change was seen throughout the week, but was especially marked at weekends.
“The reduction was most marked in the period after midnight, which corresponds with the main thrust of the changed regulations.”
Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) source of this article