Introduction Young people under 16 years are drinking twice as much as their peers 10 years ago. Data on alcohol-related attendances to our large urban paediatric emergency department identified increasing attendances, weaknesses in information gathering and giving, inconsistencies in clinical treatment and poor follow-up arrangements. As a result a clinical care pathway was formulated and a nurse-led brief intervention clinic was introduced.
Methods The alcohol care pathway was introduced in Spring 2004. All young people who presented to the emergency department with alcohol-related problems were given an information pack and offered follow-up at a brief intervention clinic (BIC). Following the introduction of the pathway an audit of attendances was performed.
Results 253 children attended between May 2004 and May 2005. 79% were female and 29% male. The age range was 10–15 years. 62% had drunk alcohol previously and 7% had previous alcohol-related hospital attendance. 16% were hypothermic. None were hypoglycaemic. Comorbidity included head injury, assault and alleged rape. 25% were admitted. Over 90% of families received information packs. 92% of young people had some form of follow-up including BIC, mental health services and school nursing. This is an increase of 30% from summer 2002.
Conclusions This continued audit confirms a steadily increasing trend of alcohol-related attendances to our emergency department, predominantly in females. The introduction of the pathway has resulted in standardised clinical care, raised awareness and has facilitated access to specialist services.