Report says ‘unintentional poisoning’ is top reason for emergency room visits by homeless Albertans – Edmonton Pipa News

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A report from the Center for Injury Prevention, released in May, said “unintentional or unspecified poisoning” is the leading cause of injuries that cause homeless Albertans to seek emergency medical care.

For the report, the Injury Prevention Center collected data from Alberta Health and consulted with the Bissell Center. He breaks down the data into five categories: unintentional or unspecified poisoning, violence, falls, natural or environmental injury, and suicide or self-harm.

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On average, 5,814 people were treated by homeless people to emergency departments for injuries per year.

The report states that 25 percent of emergency room visits were due to poisoning, with 1,438 visits occurring annually.

“This may include poisoning by substances such as drugs or medications that are taken in the wrong dosages or in dangerous combinations,” the study says.

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“Prevention for injuries in this particular category could include things like safe injection sites,” explained Kathy Belton, Associate Director of the Center for Injury Prevention and Associate Professor at the University of Alberta School of Public Health.

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The second leading cause of trauma-related visits was intentional incitement to violence/injury, which accounted for 19 percent, with an average of 1,121 visits per year.


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This is the first report in Alberta to provide data on emergency room visits for injury to homeless people.

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“This is the first step in understanding injury problems,” Belton said. “What we need to do now as a center and as a province is to consider effective measures for this population, for these injuries.”

She added that a preventable injury could cost the healthcare system more than $7 billion a year.

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The report also indicated that 17 percent of people ended up leaving the emergency room without receiving treatment, although the data does not clarify whether this is due to perceived stigma, difficulty accessing care, or for any other reason.

“Bringing attention not only to the additional risks that the homeless face, but also to the difficulty of accessing medical care for such injuries, is something that I think is underestimated and under-discussed in our society,” Lawrence Brown said. Woodbury, director of the Bissell Center. integration of services and advocacy.

The Bissell Center uses strategies to lower barriers to accessing healthcare, including programs such as StreetWorks, working with specialized healthcare providers such as the Boyle McCauley Health Center, and training the healthcare advocacy team.


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Proponents say having specific data will help find solutions tailored to the specific needs of this population.

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“Using evidence and factual knowledge of the problems in Alberta and addressing them effectively is our best chance of reducing the cost of injury in the healthcare system,” Belton said.

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“Being able to have hard numbers that you can point to when it comes to specific needs really allows me to go to funders and say, ‘We need more programs in this area at the moment,’” added Brown-Woodbury.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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