Alcohol Poisoning

In honor of Super Bowl weekend…

Back in high school I worked on a social studies project with a friend. The day before it was due, however, he never showed up to my house. So I had to pick up the slack. This was pre-texting era, so it took a few days for me to discover that he, instead, had been busy getting his “stomach pumped” by the local FP.

News flash… Stomach pumping days are long gone. Since my intern year in 1997, I’ve never pumped a stomach for alcohol ingestion.

So what, you may ask, do we do when you stagger into an emergency department, or when you are delivered by friends, ambulance or police? The answer is virtually nothing. We monitor heart rate and airway, change urine soaked sheets, then send massive bills. Sometimes we infuse IV fluids. Occasionally we do head CTs and labs if we think there could be competing problems, like brain bleeds or co-ingestions (meth, cocaine, Percocet, heroin, etc). Rarely do we intubate and send to the ICU.

While some inebriates do die the way of Bon Scott, the vast majority simply wakes up, and walks back to the wild the next day. Sober, awake, caring friends, who know the buzzwords, can make all the difference.

Red Flags:

• Not responding to painful stimulation
• Not walking
• Not speaking
• Choking or not breathing
• Co-ingestions
• Underage, female, small and/or “just turned 21” in SLO, where first drinks at bars are free… (End that please!)

Happy Words

Jabbering, blathering, shouting, or just generally irritating
Weekly ER visits for the same
Sober, awake friends able to help monitor at home
British (remarkable capacity)

So all that said, on this joyous weekend, if you or your friends happen to overshoot and feel wilted, and perhaps need some watering, then give us a call. We’ll make sure you’re safe. You’ll awaken among friends. You’ll save some cash. And you’ll speed care for ER patients with other emergencies… (like the flu). Be safe folks!

More here: ER Visits for Alcohol Intoxication Are Going Up.

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