Yale University doctors released an interesting study recently that details ways in which emergency room physicians can help join the fight against drunk driving. No, the solution was not to drug the alcoholic patients. It was simply to counsel them, reports Yahoo! Health.
The study involved 740 hazardous and harmful patients, who were consuming more than 14 drinks per week for men and more than 7 drinks per week for women. The patients also averaged about seven binge-drinking episodes per 28 days.
The doctors gave a seven-minute mini-intervention to each of the patients. A group of the patients also received follow-up calls.
The results? Binge-drinking, number of drinks per week, and driving under the influence incidents were down across the board, both at six months post-visit and at one year, reports Yahoo! The follow-up calls had no impact.
The results of the study are hardly shocking. Imagine hearing a doctor tell you that your drinking is out of control and is doing damage to your body. Most people will at least try to reduce their drinking.
However, the study does emphasize how important the doctor's counseling role is. It can be difficult for doctors in high-traffic specialties, like the ER, to remember the counseling element when there is so much trauma around them every day.
For those that are seeing a doctor after their first DUI, the doctor might just be saving them from jail time. For a second offense, there is a mandatory minimum of 96 hours of jail time, plus fines and probation. The offender's license is also suspended for a full year.
Minor adjustments like this, which reduce DUI crime, are an important and easy component to the war on drunk driving. The combination of increased counseling and technological advances, such as passive alcohol detection systems, and mandatory Breathalyzers for first-time offenders here in Los Angeles County should reduce drunk driving and by extension, traffic fatalities.
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