Health Department Reminds New Yorkers To Stay Safe On New Year’s Eve

With New Year’s Eve celebrations approaching this Sunday, the Health Department reminds New Yorkers to take care of themselves and others. Alcohol-related emergency department (ED) visits more than double on New Year’s Day every year, according to Health Department’s syndromic surveillance system, which uses data from emergency departments in New York City. Peak hours of arrival at the emergency department are between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m.

In addition, the Health Department today released a Vital Signs report on the annual number of emergency department visits for alcohol-related injuries. Between 2011 and 2015, there was an increase – from 10,480 to 14,171 emergency department visits for alcohol-related injuries. Most alcohol-related injuries seen in the emergency department are unintentional. Over half (57 percent) of alcohol-related injuries treated in the emergency department are due to falls. The full Vital Signs data is available here.

“While New Year’s Eve is a time for celebration and fun, it’s also when we see a doubling in the number of alcohol-related emergency department visits in this city,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “If you plan on drinking alcohol this weekend, be sure to drink in moderation and pace yourself. The emergency department is not the place to ring in the New Year.”

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ED visits by month (002)

Vital Signs Data Highlights, Alcohol-Related Injuries Treated in the ED:

  • New Year’s Day had the highest number of alcohol-related injury ED visits on a single day (141 ED visits for alcohol-related injuries) in 2015.
  • Alcohol-related injuries were more common on weekends (average of 52 visits vs. 34 visits on weekdays).
  • Residents of Port Richmond, Crotona-Tremont, East Harlem, Stapleton-St. George and Gramercy Park-Murray Hill had the highest rates of ED visits for alcohol-related injuries.
  • Men had much higher rates of alcohol-related injury ED visits and alcohol-related injury hospitalizations than women, accounting for 81 percent of ED visits and 77 percent of hospitalizations.
  • Nearly three-fourths of alcohol-related injuries seen at hospitals were unintentional (74 percent of ED visits and 71 percent of hospitalizations), with falls being the leading cause of unintentional injury.

Data from the Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS, (October 1, 2014-September 30, 2015) was used to generate this Vital Signs. SPARCS data include all hospital discharges reported by New York State hospitals. Details about the SPARCS database are available here.

The Health Department offers the following tips for holiday revelers to reduce their risk of alcohol-related emergency department visits:

  • If your New Year’s celebration includes alcohol, be conscious of how much you drink. It’s better to have one fewer drink than one too many.
  • Eat dinner before your celebration starts and enjoy snacks throughout the evening.
  • Pace yourself and drink non-alcoholic beverages as well to stay hydrated.
    Drink alcohol with trusted friends or family who can help in the event of illness or injury.
  • Avoid caffeine and energy drinks—these can mask the effects of alcohol and lead to overdoing it.
  • Ask your doctor if any of the medications you take interact with alcohol. Avoid alcohol if you are taking opioid analgesics or benzodiazepines, as these mixing alcohol with these medications increases your risk of overdose.

Alcohol misuse costs nearly $6 billion in citywide economic productivity losses each year in New York City. Health Department initiatives to help reduce excessive alcohol use include educating health professionals about the importance of screening and counseling, a strategy that is one of the most effective prevention interventions. The agency also supports community-based efforts to prevent underage drinking. The Department has issued guidance for health professionals and provides data and other information to community coalitions. The Department’s website offers lower-risk drinking guidelines and resources for New Yorkers.

New Yorkers can find more information about alcohol and their health here. Individuals seeking support or treatment for alcohol use issues for themselves or their loved ones can contact NYC Well by calling 1-888-NYC-WELL, texting “WELL” to 65173, or going to nyc.gov/nycwell. Free, confidential support is available at any hour of the day in over 200 languages.

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