University Medical Center ready for New Year’s Eve patients

Doctors urge people to use moderation when celebrating
Updated: Dec. 31, 2018 at 6:26 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The French Quarter attracted large numbers of New Year’s Eve revelers hours before the sun went down, and the Level 1 trauma center for the New Orleans area increased its staffing just in case some people take their holiday celebration too far.

"Any chance I get I want to make it down here. It’s three years in a row now,” said Travis Mitchell, who lives in Chicago.

"Absolutely, every year this is the place to be, right here, the French Quarter,” said Dave Edge of Staten Island, NY, as he strolled down Bourbon Street before lunch time.

"Here in the emergency department, as with across the country, we see two to three times as many presentations for events that involve the use of alcohol, and what we see is an increase in violence,” said Dr. James Aiken, M.D., an LSU Health emergency medicine expert at University Medical Center in New Orleans.

Aiken said consuming too much alcohol devastates the body.

"What we see is an increase in alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning is not just intoxication. These are people that drank maybe four to five times more than they do ordinarily, and their bodies will not handle that amount of alcohol over such a short period of time, so what we see are people who come in, they stop breathing, they’re having heart attacks, or they’re having liver, or kidney failures and sometimes even GI bleeding,” Aiken said.

He said there is no question that such behavior puts lives in danger.

"It is deadly, and that’s what people need to understand, that there is a certain herd mentality in New Year’s Eve celebration, you have a number of people packed together, everybody seems to be going with the flow, no pun intended, but people will drink a lot more on New Year’s Eve than they would ordinarily do, so all the things that we see throughout the year are magnified on New Year’s Eve,” Aiken said.

Mitchell said while he loves the ambiance of New Orleans, he practices moderation when celebrating on New Year’s Eve.

“I think so, I mean, there are some people out here that are ‘wilding out’ that can barely stand, so I like to keep my wits about me,” Mitchell said.

"You should do it in moderation as far as yourself. If you’re 21 and over, you’re responsible for your own self,” said Edge.

Aiken warned that deadly consequences can also result from mixing booze with prescription medications and street drugs.

"The receptors in our brain share certain sites that are affected both by alcohol and drugs, even prescription drugs, so if you're drinking alcohol with either prescribed medications, or other types of drugs the brain itself is overloaded not just by the magnitude of what you're taking, but sometimes three, or four times the effect simply because you're drinking as you're taking these other drugs or prescription medications,” Aiken said.

And UMC doctors joined city leaders in urging the public to keep guns out of their New Year’s celebrations.

"Do not shoot weapons into the air, do not fire weapons thinking that the bullets are going to land harmlessly. I have personally taken care of paramedics who have been shot, and we’ve also had first responders come in who are barely missed, and we’ve had one fatality from bullets that are just coming from the air at a great deal of speed,” said Dr. Aiken.

Aiken urged people who know they will consume alcohol to have a designated driver, or another form of transportation.

Copyright 2018 WVUE. All rights reserved.