Dangerous When Drunk!

While we all understand the dangers of drinking and driving, how many people realize that drinking and walking is just as dangerous?  So, if you’ve decided to leave the car at home and just celebrate locally this New Year’s Eve we’d like to bring you a cautionary tale.

According to trauma surgeon Dr. Thomas Esposito at Loyola University Health Systemalcohol impairs your physical ability, period.”

A trauma surgeon for more than 25 years, Esposito has witnessed the tragic aftermath of drunkeness many times. A quarter of all pedestrian struck cases seen in his department, were found to have blood-alcohol concentrations at or above the accepted level for intoxication.  In 2005, the journal Injury Prevention reported that New Year’s Day is more deadly for pedestrians than any other day of the year. From 1986 to 2002, 410 pedestrians were killed on New Year’s Day. 58% of those killed had high blood-alcohol concentrations.

If they had been driving and were stopped by police, they would have been arrested for driving under the influence,” Esposito said.

And it’s not just walking outside. Working, as I do, in Emergency Medicine, I often see people who have fallen down the stairs or tripped and injured themselves after drinking. Others have unwisely chosen to mix alcohol with guns, knives, bottles and fists, invariably with tragic consequences.

To avoid becoming a 2011 statistic, SRXA’s Word in Health brings you the following tips:

  • Don’t wear dark clothing that can make it difficult for drivers to see you
  • Stay out of the road. Use sidewalks and cross at designated crosswalks
  • Walk in a group, preferably with a designated chaperone or escort

Stay safe & have a Happy New Year. We look forward to welcoming you back in 2012.

Prescription Drug Vending Machines

Gone are the days when all vending machines sold were sugary or salty snacks, sodas or soggy sandwiches.

In something of a genius move, patients attending Blue Island Illinois’, MetroSouth Medical Center’s emergency department can fill their prescriptions before they even leave the hospital.  No more driving around searching for an open drug store in the middle of the night.  That’s because the hospital is the first in the state to install InstyMeds, a 24-hour vending machine which immediately dispenses most medications prescribed for emergency room patients.

Like a cross between an ATM and a soda machine, InstyMeds is available for all emergency department and same day surgery patients with commercial insurance who need a prescription filled immediately.  By entering a special code provided by the emergency department physician who has pre-entered the prescription details electronically, InstyMeds dispenses medications such as antibiotics, analgesia, eye drops and allergy medicine, among others.

We really like this program because our patients can go right home after visiting the emergency department, any time of day or night,” explains Dr. Eric Nussbaum, Chairman, MetroSouth Medical Center emergency department.  “Patients love this program because they don’t have to wait in line at the drugstore with a sick child and the prescription is the exact same price.”

Using an easy touch screen, InstyMeds automatically determines each patient’s insurance co-pay and the cost of the prescription then processes the patient’s payment using a credit or debit card.  It even has a built-in telephone and help-line so patients that can ask questions about the medicines they have been prescribed.

No more standing in line at a retail pharmacy. No more forgetting or procrastinating about filling your prescription. This really is medicine where you want it, when you want it.

SRxA’s Word on Health is impressed.  Have you used an Instymed?  Share your experiences with us.

Experts not so Ecstatic about new data on drugs-related E.R. visits

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) emergency department visits related to “Ecstasy” use increased nearly 75% from 2004 -2008.

A new national study indicates that the number of hospital emergency room visits involving the illicit drug Ecstasy increased from 10,220 in 2004 to 17,865 in 2008.  70% of these Ecstasy-related visits involved patients aged 18 to 29, but more alarmingly 17.9% involved adolescents aged 12 to 17.

Ecstasy is the colloquial term for MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) –often abbreviated “E” or “X”.  It is an entactogenic drug of the phenethylamine and amphetamine class of drugs

Leah Betts, before her death from Ecstasy. Her parents released the photograph in the hope of deterring other young people from taking drugs.

Ecstasy use can produce psychedelic and stimulant side effects such as anxiety attacks, tachycardia, hypertension and hyperthermia. The variety and severity of adverse reactions associated with Ecstasy use can increase when the drug is used in combination with other substances of abuse.  Most Ecstasy-related deaths occur as a result of the drug users’ failure to recognize their body is abnormally hot.

In the current study almost 80% of emergency department visits involving Ecstasy use also involve the use of at least one or more other substances of abuse.  Half had used Ecstasy with three or more other substances.

The resurgence of Ecstasy use is cause for alarm that demands immediate attention and action,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “The aggressive prevention efforts being put into place by SAMHSA will help reduce use in states and communities, resulting in less costly emergency department visits related to drug use.”

SRxA’s Word on Health and its Behavioral Health Advisors are deeply concerned by this trend and applaud SAMHSA on its preventative educational efforts.