Don't let festive fun end in the emergency department

AS WE prepare to eat, drink and be merry, health experts are warning Toowoomba residents not to go overboard after last year's Christmas celebrations ended in hospital for more than 100 people.

Chest pain, minor head injuries, urinary tract infections, gastroenteritis and abdominal pain were the most common reasons for a trip to the Toowoomba Hospital Emergency Department in the 2015 festive season.

The city's dedicated doctors and nurses are preparing for another busy holiday period this year with Boxing Day traditionally bringing an influx of patients.

On Boxing Day last year, 150 patients went to the Toowoomba ED - compared with 138 on an average day - and 62 of these were admitted to hospital for further treatment.

Last Christmas Day 114 patients went through the ED and 44 of these were admitted to hospital for further treatment.

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Chris Zappala said people drinking more alcohol and taking more risks contributed to busy EDs during the holidays.

"A few more people tend to have a bit more spare time on their hands so they partake in activities they wouldn't usually partake in," Dr Zappala said.

"They do more adventurous things at this time of year and come a cropper."

Dr Zappala said using common sense and not drinking to excess would reduce the chances of a Christmas trip to hospital.

"It's always a little worse at this time of year so we need to remember what those safe drinking guidelines are," he said.

Dr Zappala also urged residents to remember family members and people in the community who were disadvantaged or ostracised at Christmas and keep an eye on those vulnerable in the heat.

"Enjoy yourself but just remember those people less fortunate and bring them into the fold," he said.

A Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service spokesperson said the Christmas-new year holiday period was a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends but it was important to celebrate in moderation.

"Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to a range of health concerns, and it can also lead to risk-taking behaviour, which may result in injuries," the spokesperson said.

"It is also advisable to follow all safety precautions or instructions and use appropriate protective devices when using new equipment you may be unfamiliar with."

Dr Zappala thanked the ED staff who would be working this Christmas Day and taking time out from their families.

"A huge thank you to those individuals who help us all when we get into scrapes in the holiday season," he said.

People with non-urgent conditions are encouraged to see a GP or go to a pharmacy for assistance. In an emergency, phone 000 and ask for an ambulance. If you are unsure whether you need to go to an ED, phone 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for advice.


  • Ensure you have enough medication to last over public holidays.
  • Keep hydrated and avoid drinking too much alcohol.
  • Wash your hands and dry thoroughly before handling any food.
  • Don't risk food poisoning by eating dodgy leftovers. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Supervise children around pools, dams and at the beach.
  • Keep batteries out of reach of children.
  • Look out for friends, family and neighbours who might need help.


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