• Emerg Med Australas · Feb 2024

    Using ambulance surveillance data to characterise blood-borne viral infection histories among patients presenting with acute alcohol and other drug-related harms.

    • Naomi Beard, Michael McGrath, Debbie Scott, Ziad Nehme, Dan I Lubman, and Rowan P Ogeil.
    • Turning Point, Eastern Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
    • Emerg Med Australas. 2024 Feb 28.

    ObjectivePreventable transmission of blood-borne viruses (BBV), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV), continue in at-risk populations, including people who use alcohol and drugs (AODs). To our knowledge, no studies have explored the use of ambulance data for surveillance of AOD harms in patients with BBV infections.MethodsWe used electronic patient care records from the National Ambulance Surveillance System for people who were attended by an ambulance in Victoria, Australia between July 2015 and July 2016 for AOD-related harms, and with identified history of a BBV infection. Descriptive and geospatial analyses explored the epidemiological and psychosocial characteristics of patients for these attendances.ResultsThe present study included 1832 patients with a history of a BBV infection who required an ambulance for AOD-related harms. Amphetamines were reported in 24.7% of attendances where the patient identified HIV history, and heroin was reported more often for patients with viral hepatitis history (HCV: 19.2%; HBV: 12.7%). Higher proportions of attendances with a viral hepatitis history were observed in patients from the most socially disadvantaged areas. Geospatial analyses revealed higher concentrations of AOD attendances with a BBV history occurring in metropolitan Melbourne.ConclusionsOur study describes the utility of ambulance data to identify a sub-population of patients with a BBV history and complex medical and social characteristics. Repeat attendances of BBV history patients to paramedics could present an opportunity for ongoing surveillance using ambulance data and possible paramedic intervention, with potential linkage to appropriate BBV services.© 2024 Australasian College for Emergency Medicine.

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