Patients presenting with fresh trauma after interpersonal violence. Part I. Alcohol and substance abuse

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Abstract

Background. Patients presenting with fresh trauma frequently have evidence of substance abuse. Nevertheless, few South African studies have measured the levels of both alcohol and other substances in patients presenting with fresh trauma after interpersonal violence. Methods. A representative sample of patients presenting with fresh trauma to the Trauma Unit of Tygerberg Hospital was selected for study. Subjects were questioned about the nature of the trauma and breath alcohol concentrations were determined. Blood and urine samples for analysis of alcohol and other substances were obtained from approximately half the subjects. Results. Alcohol was found to be present in a majority of patients who presented after interpersonal violence, while other substances were present less commonly. There was a high correlation between clinical history of alcohol use, breath analysis of alcohol and blood alcohol measurement. Conclusions. Alcohol use plays a significant role in trauma due to interpersonal violence. It is essential to screen victims of interpersonal violence for a history of alcohol and other substances. Breath analysis for alcohol is a useful adjunct to clinical screening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)996-998
Number of pages3
JournalSouth African Medical Journal
Volume87
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1997

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