ERs expect throng of alcohol, drug-related visitors for NYE

MUHC emergency physician Sophie Gosselin has one hope for her overnight New Year's Eve shift in the emergency room.

"If I had to make a wish I'd hope to not have to pronounce somebody dead on New Year's."

Gosselin is working overnight on New Year's Eve, and has done it in the past - she says even without a death it's a rough shift. 

"People keep coming in, the ambulances are coming in. You go home at the end of your night shift and you're completely wiped out."

About ten per cent of New Year's patients come in with an issue linked to alcohol, according to Gosselin - including partiers with alcohol poisoning, or injuries they sustained while drunk.

"They're vomiting, they're having a decreased level of consciousness, and we're worried for their ability to protect their airway and the risk of vomiting into their lungs. So I remind people to drink moderately and pace the drinking. Certainly an hour after finishing the last drink before going out. 

Gosselin also recommends sticking to one drink per hour and not mixing weed and alcohol.

But alcohol isn't the only problem on New Year's - some revellers show up to the emergency rooms with problems stemming from other drugs, often overdoses or unexpected side effects.

The same problems can happen with both illicit drugs and legal ones, including prescription medications taken by somebody they aren't intended for.

But illegal drugs can pose an extra challenge, in that doctors may not easily recognize what a patient has taken.

"They're always ahead of the law and we can't always identify which substance it is. They can put people at risk of cardiac rhythm problems. All of this compounds the risk of sustaining injuries."

Overall, Gosselin says she hopes that people can party responsibly and avoid clogging emergency rooms with avoidable problems.

"This is something that people can actually act on. It's within their control to be responsible and not put themselves in a situation where they have to come to emergency."