There’s a pattern to the victims who seek medical help at the casualty ward of government hospitals in the city. According to the doctors, about 90 per cent of the accident/assaults classified as ‘medico-legal cases’ are due to alcohol abuse.
The Government General Hospital received 1,819 accident/assault victims last month. In January, it treated 1,956 victims. More patients are admitted to the hospital during the first weekend of the month when salaries are disbursed, the doctors said.
“If during the first weekend we receive about 140 to 160 patients reporting to the Casualty then during the last week of a month we see half that number,” said N. Muthurajan, Resident Medical Officer, GH. “Ninety per cent of them are victims of drunken driving. Many of the injuries are as a result of fall from the vehicle,” he said.
Such injuries are more common during New Year’s Eve and Kaanum Pongal Day. On these days, “the Casualty department will resemble another outpatient department,” said another medical officer.
Doctors at the Casualty clinically examine the patients and rarely send their samples for testing to prove alcohol as the reason for the accident/assault.
“Every day we receive women who have been assaulted by men under the influence of alcohol. Police urge us to stay alert on Saturdays,” said M. Kanthimathy, RMO of Kilpauk Medical College Hospital. The hospital is a referral centre in the State for treating burns.
At Stanley Hospital, every day five patients are admitted with complaints of “overdose of alcohol”. An improvement in their income causes people take to drinking, said Mohan Rao, a physician attached to the Casualty ward there. It is not just the youth, even middle-age men are admitted, he said.
“We send them to the Toxicology Department. Each such patient is counselled against drinking before being discharged. We have some patients who have stopped drinking,” Dr. Rao said.