A new study has highlighted how much e-scooter injuries are costing to the Northern Territory’s health system.
Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH) and Charles Darwin University (CDU) were involved in the study, which found there were 111 presentations to the Emergency Department over a period of eight months between January and September last year.
CDU Psychology Lecturer Tim Piatkowski says injuries to the upper body were most common.
“Lots of broken arms, wrists, lots of facial, dental damage because people weren’t wearing their helmets and about half of all the presentations were intoxicated,” he says.
“There were a lot of x-rays and CT’s…some people had to stay for quite some time.”
The study found that the average cost per patient in hospital; was $777, while the total cost to the “already strained health system” was $352,000.
Mr Piatkowski says he was shocked at people’s blood alcohol concentrations.
“The average was triple the BAC so 0.18 per cent. The highest was 0.49 per cent, so pretty staggering numbers.”
The findings have reignited debate about whether tougher regulations on e-scooters are needed.
It comes after Queensland announced new penalties for riders, with fines $431 for drink riding and $143 for not wearing a helmet.
Mr Piatkowski says more health messaging aiming to keep people safe on e-scooters would be a good start.
“Maybe people telling their stories about what happened to them…a bit more harm reduction messaging, encourage the helmet wearing and encourage not drinking.”
He says in most cases those injured were not wearing a helmet, with the majority of the hospital presentations occurring during the late night, early mornings between Thursdays and Sundays.
Mr Piatkowski says his work is far from over, as he plans to interview some of the people who were injured.
“To see how far those harms have penetrated their lives and also we’re going to run some longer follow up studies.”