Healthwatch: DUI Crashes

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Staff at the Rush Hospital emergency room say drinking and driving, or using drugs and driving, accounts for a startling number of cases they see.

Forty-one percent of the patients in motor vehicle crashes are there because the driver was positive for alcohol or drugs.

"We're also finding about 23 percent of our patients ages 15 to 19 that come in in motor vehicle crashes are positive for alcohol," said Ginger Alford, R.N.,
trauma program manager. "That's a scary number, because they're underage, drinking. They're getting that somewhere."

"It impairs their judgment. And these are the deaths that could be prevented more than any other," said Dr. Kevin Ward, general surgeon. "Those that are related to the impaired judgment from another substance that's been ingested."

Dr. Ward says drinking and illegal drugs are not the only problem.

"Some prescription drugs can impair your judgment as well particularly those that have narcotics or antihistamines, anything that would make one drowsy can impair the judgment as well," Ward said.

Rush Hospital was recently designated a Level 3 trauma center.

"We do provide the initial resuscitation for trauma patients as they enter into our facility. But we can also continue the care on those patients," Alford said.

Rush Hospital urges everyone to have a designated driver, someone who is not drinking alcohol at all nor using drugs that could impair their judgment and reaction time.

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