Top 5 Reasons For Holiday ER Visits

Kristy Crowley - Dec 19, 2017

So, you’ve just started your clinical rotations, with a major holiday coming up. Imagine this scenario: relaxation; peace and quiet; time with family and friends. While this all may sound magical, as a medical student, don’t get too comfortable just yet. Instead, prepare yourself for the ER. It’s no secret that the holiday season corresponds with increased hospital visits. Here are five reasons why you may see an influx of patients this holiday season. 

  1. Knife injuries. Carving a turkey and slicing and dicing all of those vegetables involves a lot of knives. As a med student on rotations, be prepared to treat bludgeon injuries, which, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), account for one of the top reasons patients visit the ER over the holiday season. 
  2. Food poisoning. Food-borne illnesses over the holidays are about as common as tryptophan-induced lethargy from too much turkey. So, get ready to see a plethora of patients with bacterial infection symptoms, including diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps. 
  3. Burns. From accidentally dropping boiling hot gravy to gripping hot pans without a pot holder, there are plenty of increased risks for burns. Have the sterile dressing ready!
  4. Influenza. Unfortunately, the month of December happens to coincide with flu season. Unsurprisingly, this brings in a lot of ER traffic, especially for children. Encourage your patients to practice good hygiene habits year-round, such as hand washing and covering up a sneeze or cough, to reduce the chance that the flu will come knocking. And remember, amantadine is no longer recommended for treating influenza! Although amantadine used to be an option for treating influenza A, during the 2008/2009 flu season, the CDC found that 100% of seasonal H3N2 and 2009 pandemic viruses were resistant to the drug.
  5. Overindulgence. While it’s common to joke about “stuffing ourselves silly” over the holidays, overindulgence is a serious problem and a common reason for ER visits in late December. Overeating is especially dangerous to those with hypertension or those who suffer from hyperglycemia. And remember, there are new hypertension guidelines. We knew you would need these important updates over the holidays, so we’ve gone ahead and updated them for you! You can find the updated information here.

The holidays are a stressful time for many reasons, and for people from all walks of life. The emergency department is an epicenter for all things during the holidays. If there’s a patient in need, there’s a physician with a team of professionals ready to help - you’re one of them! Happy holidays from the AMBOSS team.