Increase in number of death certificates mentioning alcohol

There's been an increase in the number of death certificates which mentions alcohol following the introduction of a new codification system.

According to the Central Statistics Office, alcohol was mentioned on death certificates in 1,895 cases dealt with by coroners during a three year period between 2007 and 2009.

Chairperson of the Coroners Society, Clare County Coroner Isobel O’Dea, said anecdotally there had been a rise in the number of cases coming before coroners where alcohol had played a significant role, but she stressed that just because alcohol is mentioned on a death certificate did not mean it played a direct or contributory role in the death.

However, she said there were "no guidelines" as to how individual coroners dealt with the presence of alcohol in a deceased person and, in many cases, there was no way of knowing what role, if any, it had played in that person’s death.

The Irish Examiner says three out of four coroners it spoke to in Donegal reinforced Ms O’Dea's view that there has been an increase.

Meanwhile, a comparative study of A&E attendees at four hospitals nationwide shows that Letterkenny had the lowest amount deemed to need advice on alcohol intake. 30% of those screened at Letterkenny General Hospital required brief advice, versus 41% in Waterford, 33% in Naas and 56% in Cork.