A study that found a need to improve handling of alcohol-related illnesses within hospitals won the Oscar of the research world.

The Digital Health and Digital Aged Care research group from Smart Infrastructure Facility recently won the 2019 Research OSCAR, affectionately called the ROSCAR, for the Best Multidisciplinary Project at Illawarra and Shoalhaven Local Health District.

Led by Associate Professor Ping Yu, in collaboration with Professor Wilf Yeo, Director of Internal Medicine, along with clinicians led by Mr David Reid, Director of Drug and Alcohol Service at Illawarra and Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD), won for their project Alcohol-related presentations within a hospital setting, which identified gaps in alcohol management care at hospital.

Alcohol is one of the top five risk factors for disease and disability and causes 3.3million deaths annually.

It is estimated around 38% of the emergency presentations are alcohol‐related, with a reported 27% of patients using alcohol in the 24 hours prior to presentation, however, as alcohol withdrawal and its complications such as seizures may occur 6 hours after the last drink, the diagnoses of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is often missed.

Failure in identification of AUD can lead to unexpected acute alcohol withdrawal, further complicating emergency assessment and diagnosis, causing harm to patients.

The award winning study found that early identification of AUD is essential for the medical staff to ensure optimal management of patients. Professor Yu said an effective way is to use an alcohol screening tool to identify and assess whether alcohol is harming a person’s health or is likely to cause harm in the future.

“This study identified gaps in the management of patients with AUD. It identified a need to routinely use an alcohol screening tool to screen patients at the initial presentation and to improve alcohol management of patients with AUD in the hospital,” said Professor Yu.

The selection panel said the project’s strength was the breadth of multidisciplinary, clinician and academic collaboration.

The full report was published in Drug and Alcohol Review, the official journal of Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs. The research received funding from the Global Challenge Seed grant, IHMRI Translational Research grant and matching contribution from the Drug and Alcohol Service, ISLHD.