Hong Kong Med J 2010;16:246–51 | Number 4, August 2010
Prevalence of drugged drivers among non-fatal driver casualties presenting to a trauma centre in Hong Kong
OF Wong, KL Tsui, Tommy SK Lam, NN Sze, SC Wong, FL Lau, SH Liu
Accident and Emergency Department, Tuen Mun Hospital, Hong Kong
OBJECTIVE. To investigate the prevalence and characteristics of abusive drug exposure among non-fatal motor vehicle driver casualties presenting to a designated trauma centre in Hong Kong.
DESIGN. Cross-sectional study.
SETTING. Designated trauma centre/regional accident and emergency department in Hong Kong.
SUBJECTS. Non-fatal motor vehicle driver casualties who presented to the trauma centre from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2007.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES. Screening of abusive drug exposure using commercial bedside urine immunoassay kits.
RESULTS. Drug screening was performed in 395 injured drivers, 10% of whom tested positive for the drugs of interest. Ketamine was the most commonly detected abusive substance (found in 45% of the subjects). A significantly higher proportion of young drivers (aged <25 years) screened positive (odds ratio=2.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.0-5.2; P=0.04), with the rate being 21%. The presence of these drugs in urine was related to the time of occurrence of the crash; those occurring between midnight and dawn revealed a trend towards a higher proportion of casualties testing drug-positive (odds ratio=2.2; 95% confidence interval, 0.9-5.3; P=0.07). There were no significant differences in the frequency of persons testing positive for the screened drugs with respect to gender, class of motor vehicle driven, or the day of the week on which the crash occurred.
CONCLUSIONS. The prevalence of drugged driving among non-fatal casualties in our series of Hong Kong drivers was 10%. The frequency of such drivers testing positive for drugs was significantly higher in persons aged less than 25 years. These findings indicate a need to amend existing laws and implement on-site drug screening for suspected drugged drivers.
Key words: Accidents, traffic; Psychotropic drugs; Street drugs; Substance abuse detection; Substance-related disorders
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