Ian Sample

Nightclubs across the UK would introduce medical guidelines aimed at reducing the number of drug-related deaths and associated health problems on their premises.

The first-of-their-kind guidelines have been drawn up by doctors working with the police and ambulance services, amid concerns that clubbers who overdose may not receive proper medical treatment quickly enough. The 10-point checklist is designed to give nightclub staff a simple way to decide whether a person who has fallen ill after taking drugs needs to be taken to hospital immediately for emergency care.

“Previously, guidelines have only dealt with security and safety issues, such as ventilation and the number of people allowed in. There was no guidance on what to do if someone collapsed,” said David Wood, a clinical toxicologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital poisons unit in London.

Reluctant owners

Some nightclub owners are reluctant to call ambulances when people fall ill, not least out of fear their licence could be revoked.

The guidelines are to be circulated to nightclubs across the country as part of “safer clubbing” advice, due to be published in the next few weeks. They also appear in the medical journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy.

Dr. Wood’s team interviewed staff at eight nightclubs in South London, all of which had a room for tending to unwell clubbers. According to the guidelines, an ambulance should be called if a clubber has chest pains or seizures, or a consistently high temperature, heart rate or abnormal blood pressure. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2008