What's up with this practice?


I'm sorry I'm not one to usually complain about what kind of patients come to the ED cuz gee it's job security right? But lately--over the past several months our drunk load has gone out of this world. One night 4 out of seven monitored beds were holding drunks to sober up.(In monitored area only because that's the only beds you can easily see) The police- who I normally love- brought them in because they were drunk, no assaults, no major falls,-1 had a skinned knee, no trauma, no complaints--just too drunk!

I guess I'm just curious is this happening elsewhere--I thought they could take you home or lock you up overnight for public intox.

We were lucky that night no cardiac patients to speak of and the folks were calm -we just iv'd em and slept em. MMMM maybe I should start a drunk babysitting sevice with a doc anda nurse some techs.... we'll draw their blood etoh, IV em and babysit till sober. It would clear out the Er and make me some money!!LOL:chuckle

Thanks for the vent!


52 Posts

Same here in MASS.

A night does not go by with out at least one "sleeping it off"...and of course incase of alcoholic seizure they need to be in plan veiw most of the time.....I bet if you took a poll you would find it the same all over.....now what is the solution??


518 Posts

I think you are seeing this more and more because police are realizing the liability of sticking a drunk in a cell all night with the possiblilty of something happening. I know that's the reason we are seeing more in my area.

Yea--I'm not alone! MassEDgirl-I'm not sure what the solution is want to open a supervised drunk tank with me? LOL We do allow them to be taken home if a family member can be reached and will take responsibility but, you can guess often that really happens. At least most of the time ours just sleep. I guess that's a minor blessing--but I sure hate the smell of stale alcohol. YUK!

Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

153 Articles; 21,232 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 31 years experience.

Yeah, drunks barfing is not my idea of a good night either!


167 Posts

I don't know of a good solution, but I know our hosp is having to put up with a lot of these drunks. Several months ago, local cops dropped a guy off at his home after going to our hosp and being discharged (no injuries, just drunk!!) Next morning, said drunk was found DEAD in front of his house. City settled for I think $1.5 mill. DOn't know if there are still suits pending against hosp or anybody else.

ERNurse752, RN

1,323 Posts

Has 8 years experience.

Same problem here...I've been hearing rumors about a similar idea though...a place to take drunks who are too drunk for jail, but who waste the time and money of the ERs...

If I hear anything more, I'll definitely post it! ;)


1,091 Posts

Specializes in ER, PACU, OR.


see it here all the time also........

dunno why?

who knows............

me :)

Specializes in ER, ICU, L&D, OR.

Howdy yall

from deep in the heat of texas

Its the same here too. Partly because the local jail has a policy that anyone with a BAC greater than .3 has to be medically cleared. So we get them and have to sit on them untill they are sober enough to go back to jail. Ties up nurses and beds and police officers to watch them also.

But the worst is when the police dump some homeless or non english speaking drunk on us to take care of because they dont want to deal with them, and they want us to dispostion him. That is a major PIA.

Fortunately a banana bag and a little phenergan and they sleep and generally dont puke, however they might just pee all over themselves...which is worse their puking or their peeing all over themselves or even worse pooping all over themselves also. That can be totally disgusting. Thank god for the shower station in the decontamination room. Hose them off and the stretcher too at the same time. Howver we have a rule if they are drunk, puking, peeing and pooping all over then we admit them to the ubit and make good friends with the ICU nurses.

Then you get the ones the police dont want because they are to dirty and would disturb the other prisoners. Like the ones suffering from acute T.S.S. .. You know the ones when you take them off the patient and throw them in the corner with a purple noxious haze and stand up all by themselves.

thats bad.

doo wah ditty


1,250 Posts

eeewwww...been there, done that. Got one guy that comes in consistently every two weeks for the last 7 months. Gets paid, drunk, goes to the casino, loses, cuts up, and ends up in our ER. They tried the state hospital this last time but because he'd been there 37 times they wouldn't take the patient. Doc made him sign a safety contract stating that he would not harm himself or others and dc'd him. What next!!!


648 Posts

Has 36 years experience.

I think this is related to jails becoming increasingly aware that unattended very drunk people can die, so sending them to the ED is a CYA move.

Thanks for the sharing and input everybody. It's nice to know there are more drunks out there other then Indy! LOL I'm with MollyJ though it has to be a CYA move.

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