Smith Level I Shock Trauma Center at Eskenazi Health Builds Awareness About Alcohol-Related Injuries

Eskenazi Health stresses smart choices about drinking this holiday season

CONTACT: Todd Harper
Phone: 317.880.4785
Pager: 317.310.5972  
, December 23, 2013 -- Alcohol-related accidents account for nearly half of all trauma deaths and non-fatal injuries in the United States, according to the American College of Surgeons. Each year over 3 million individuals are hospitalized, 37 million seek emergency treatment and 60 million seek medical attention or lose at least one day of normal activity as a result of an accident.  In 2010 alone, nearly 11,000 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes – nearly one-third (32 percent) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
Holiday parties and New Year’s events provide a social atmosphere where alcohol is often consumed. The Smith Level I Shock Trauma Center at Eskenazi Health, one of only two adult Level I trauma centers in the state, hopes to educate others about preventable alcohol-related injuries this holiday season.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives. In 2009, Indiana University and the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute reported that, in Indiana, 25 percent of traffic crashes with fatalities involved alcohol.  
Alcohol requires no digestion and is absorbed right into the bloodstream. The effects of alcohol consumption can be felt quickly and have been proven to impact a person's thinking, judgment, reasoning and reflex activity.  
“Although we generally see an increase in the number of drunk driving crashes around the holidays, we also see other injuries stemming from alcohol consumption such as careless operation of machinery or equipment and domestic violence,” said Dr. Gerardo Gomez, chief of the Section of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Emergency Surgical Services at Eskenazi Health and director of the Smith Level I Shock Trauma Center. “Alcohol-related injuries are predictable and are therefore
preventable if education measures are put in place to help build community awareness about the dangers of irresponsible alcohol use.”
In order to keep your consumption to a minimum and delay the effects of alcohol, doctors say to try and pace yourself. Eating high-protein foods while you drink will help slow the absorption of alcohol into your system. Also, know how much alcohol you can handle without losing control, and cut yourself off before you reach that limit.
“Alcohol related injuries do not discriminate. They know no socio-economic boundaries,” said Dr. Gomez. “Over the years I have seen the terrible consequences such injuries have on families, the young and the old. It is devastating.”
Last but not least, if you plan on drinking while you are out, do not drive. Arrange for a designated driver to pick you up and drive you home.
Eskenazi Health treats more than 2,500 trauma patients each year and became the first verified Level I trauma center in the state in 1992. It remains one of only two adult Level I trauma centers in Indiana. A Level I trauma center is a comprehensive regional resource that is central to the trauma system. Trauma centers verified as Level I are capable of providing total care for every aspect of injury, from prevention to rehabilitation. Key elements of a Level I trauma center include 24-hour in-house coverage by trauma surgeons and prompt availability of care in specialties such as orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, internal medicine and critical care.
Level I trauma centers are committed to injury prevention, public education and continuing training of the trauma team members as well as continued improvement through a comprehensive quality assessment program and an organized research effort to help direct new innovations in trauma care.