Today's News

Friday, February 23, 1996

Drunk drivers have higher incidence of severe injuries

Drivers under the influence of alcohol are more severely injured and have a higher incidence of hip dislocations and fractures in motor vehicle accidents than drivers who are sober, according to a study released Thursday in poster exhibit A 37.

A 30-month study of the records of 1,616 patients admitted to 16 hospitals in the New York City metropolitan area for injuries as drivers of motor vehicle accidents found that 23 percent were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The study found 4.3 percent of the drunk and drugged drivers had hip dislocations, while only 1.4 percent of sober drivers had similar injuries. One-third of the drunk and drugged drivers had a fracture of an extremity, compared to 28 percent of the sober drivers, said Thomas D. Cervoni, Md, chief orthopaedic resident, New York Medical College, Valhalla, N.Y.

More than 4 percent of the drunk drivers were ejected from the vehicle, compared to 1.4 percent of the sober drivers. Twenty-three percent of the patients admitted to the hospitals for motor vehicle injuries were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The study found that drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs were predominantly male, younger, involved in higher-speed collisions, and less likely to be wearing a seat belt than sober drivers.

Co-authors of the study with Dr. Cervoni, all associated with the New York Medical College, Mark D. Medici, MD, orthopaedic resident; Iris E. Schlesinger, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery; Daniel W. Byrne, MS, biostatistician/research; Rudolph F. Taddonio, MD, professor of orthopaedic surgery; Lawrence M. Wexler, PhD, director of research, department of orthopaedic surgery; C. Gene Cayten, MD, professor of general surgery and director of the Institute for Trauma and Emergency Care; and Robert E. Zickel, MD, professor and chairman, department of orthopaedic surgery.

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