What is this article about?
In most Western societies, including Australia, alcohol consumption in excess of medical guidelines is a socially acceptable past time. However, studies have shown that one in five Australians drink to excess on a regular basis and between 3 to 4% are dependent on, or abuse, alcohol. Alcohol abuse has many health-related consequences for which nurses and doctors in the emergency department are at the forefront to respond and treat. In the emergency departments of Australia, 17 to 35% of all presentations are related to alcohol (Williams et al. 2011). Acute alcohol consumption is implicated in over 200 different health conditions as well as an increased risk of alcohol-related self-harm. Patients who present with acute alcohol intoxication in the emergency department can exhibit a range of clinical manifestations, including behavioural, cardiac, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, neurological, and metabolic effects.