Objective To describe patterns and characteristics of emergency department (ED) presentations related to the use of ecstasy and related drugs (ERDs) in Melbourne, Australia.
Methods Retrospective audit of ERD-related presentations from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2010 at two tertiary hospital EDs. Variation in presentations across years was tested using a two-tailed test for proportions. Univariate and multivariate logistic regressions were used to compare sociodemographic and clinical characteristics across groups.
Results Most of the 1347 presentations occurred on weekends, 24:00–06:00. Most patients arrived by ambulance (69%) from public places (42%), private residences (26%) and licensed venues (21%). Ecstasy-related presentations decreased from 26% of presentations in 2008 to 14% in 2009 (p<0.05); γ-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) presentations were most common overall. GHB presentations were commonly related to altered conscious state (89%); other presentations were due to psychological concerns or nausea/vomiting. Compared with GHB presentations, patients in ecstasy-related presentations were significantly less likely to require intubation (OR 0.04, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.18), but more likely to result in hospital admission (OR 1.77, 95% CI 1.08 to 2.91). Patients in amphetamine-related cases were older than those in GHB-related cases (median 28.4 years vs 23.9 years; p<0.05), and more likely to have a history of substance use (OR 4.85, 95% CI 3.50 to 6.74) or psychiatric illness (OR 6.64, 95% CI 4.47 to 9.87). Overall, the median length of stay was 3.0 h (IQR 1.8–4.8), with most (81%) patients discharged directly home.
Conclusions Although the majority of ERD-related presentations were effectively treated, with discharge within a short time frame, the number and timing of presentations places a significant burden on EDs. ERD harm reduction and improved management of minor harms at licensed venues could reduce this burden.
- drug abuse
- emergency department
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.