ER Hospitals: Helping Alcoholics Sooner
Experts in the medical field are now taking a different approach when dealing with those who are drunk and injured. Instead of simply administering care and releasing the individual, many medical practitioners are now using the moment as a way to convey to the patient how their alcohol abuse or alcoholism is negatively impacting their lives, and how they need the help of a professional alcohol treatment facility in order to treat their disease. One of the reasons why many doctors are offering this information to these individuals is because a large number of states allow insurance companies to deny payment for medical services rendered on a person with an injury that involves alcohol or drugs. Over half of all individuals who come into emergency rooms across the country for treatment are under the influence of alcohol. It should be noted that there is a substantial difference between someone who abuses alcohol and gets hurt and someone who suffers from the disease of alcoholism. A person suffering from alcoholism may not be able to stop on their own even after knowing how their drinking affects their lives, that is why a comprehensive medical treatment program can help them towards helping alcoholics.
In a recent study that was published online in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, it was discovered that close to 600 ER patients were considered to be hazardous drinkers. They defined the term “hazardous drinker” as a man who commonly drinks more than 14 drinks a week, or more than 4 on in a single sitting. For women, it is defined as someone who drinks more than 7 alcoholic beverages in a week, or more than 3 in a single sitting. The goal of the new policy is to get people to understand the danger they are putting themselves in when they binge drink, and how it can negatively affect their lives if they continue to abuse their bodies.
Hospitals are helping alcoholics now by offering counseling sessions to individuals who come in repeatedly with injuries related to alcohol consumption. Research shows that when you compare people who underwent alcohol counseling to those who received standard care after an alcohol related injury, those who took part in the counseling sessions were more likely to reduce the number of drinks they consume every week. Also, they are more likely to curtail their binge drinking. This is because these new, counseling sessions are able to clearly illustrate to a person who suffers from an alcohol addiction exactly what kind of damage they are doing, and what it is costing them financially to keep coming back to the hospital. However, in the case that the person is an actual Alcoholic, they are going to require more than simple counseling sessions and financial motivation to treat their disease.
Most of the people, however, who come into the hospital and need to be treated for an alcohol related injury, do not need full time counseling to curtail their drinking. Yes, they may drink more than the average person, which more closely symbolizes alcohol abuse rather than alcoholism, however, they may not be addicted yet. That is why a one-time counseling session for these particular individuals is so beneficial. It can help to stop them from ever getting to the point of severe addiction. It’s a “scared straight” philosophy, so to speak.
In the years since 1947, more and more insurance companies are making it common practice to enact measures in their policies which allow them to refuse to pay for a patient’s health care cost if it involves an accident that was caused by alcohol or drug use. However, as medical professionals learn more and more about the nature of addiction, it is becoming clear that this tactic is actually counterproductive. In fact, in the year 2001, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners recommended against such practices by insurance companies.
Helping Alcoholics Suffering From Alcoholism
Insurance companies are notorious for finding excuses not to pay for their client’s needs. In the past, it was especially easy for them to justify denying coverage to someone who got drunk and hurt themselves. Thankfully, with mounting evidence surfacing that addiction is a neurological disorder, it is becoming more difficult for insurance companies to deny claims, more important, to deny helping alcoholics. Individuals who get hurt in an accident involving alcohol deserve to have their insurance companies honor their policies. However, if more hospitals would begin to implement on-site counseling to those who come in with alcohol related injuries, the number of admissions for such injuries may decrease drastically and patients suffering from alcoholism may be more likely to seek treatment.