“If you go in alive, you come out alive” – but what happens next? Follow-up after treatment for alcohol poisoning
Summary of Report of the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision 2/2007
This report presents a summary of information collected by the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision about follow-up services for people who have been admitted to emergency services or hospitals with alcohol poisoning. We carried out a search of the literature and contacted researchers and representatives from administrative and clinical sectors within the health services. The aim was to identify areas where there is a danger that follow-up services may be inadequate.
The results show that there is little systematic information and documentation about people with alcohol poisoning: who they are, how many of them receive health care, where they receive treatment and what kind of follow-up services they are offered. Three groups seem to be over-represented among people who are brought to emergency services or hospital with alcohol poisoning: 1) young people, often with mental health problems and little experience with, and control over, their alcohol consumption, 2) heavy alcohol users who have marginalized and chaotic lives, and 3) adults with chronic alcohol problems or chronic alcohol use in combination with other drugs, who have reduced tolerance due to health problems. Our results give a picture of inadequately coordinated services that are haphazard and variable. There appears to be regional variation in follow-up services, in internal routines for follow-up, in attitudes to alcohol and drug problems, and in knowledge and skills related to follow-up services and follow-up needs.
Health authorities and service providers are responsible for ensuring that health professionals have knowledge about relevant standards and guidelines in relation to alcohol poisoning. Several issues need to be clarified to ensure adequate follow-up services. Regional health authorities, health trusts and municipalities are responsible for providing services that are in accordance with sound professional standards. Regional health authorities have a duty to ensure that adequate and comprehensive services are provided, in particular low threshold and detoxification services. Specialized health services and municipal health and social services have a duty to cooperate with each other. The Norwegian Board of Health Supervision expects the responsible authorities on different levels to use the information presented in this report when developing services for people who have been treated for alcohol poisoning.