In recent years, an increasing number of adolescents are treated in hospital after drinking alcohol. Binge drinking can lead to alcoholic poisoning. Alcohol consumption is also an important determinant in accidents leading to injuries. Research has shown that alcohol increases the risk of accidents, mainly due to decreasing coordination, reaction time and concentration. Effective policy making on injury prevention benefits from knowledge on incidence rates of alcohol related injuries and alcoholic poisoning. However, information on the topic remains scarce. The Consumer Safety Institute in Amsterdam measures the yearly number of Emergency Department (ED) visits caused by alcoholic poisoning and alcohol related accidents, using the Dutch Injury Surveillance System (LIS). LIS registers ED-treatments in a representative sample of Dutch hospitals, which enables extrapolation of the registered numbers to national estimates. During the period 2004–2008 an average yearly estimate of 1800 youths aged 10–24 visited an Emergency Department of a Dutch hospital for an alcoholic poisoning. The number of ED-treatments for alcoholic poisonings increased over 200% during this period. During the period 2004–2008 an average yearly estimate of 2500 youths aged 10–24 visited an ED with an injury registered as alcohol related. This is an underestimation of the true problem, however, because registration by medical staff is usually limited to the cases where it is medically relevant. Additional questionnaire research with registered ED visitors indicates that the real incidence rate for accidents related to alcohol is up to six times higher than the ED-registrations suggest.
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