Top 5 Reasons For Holiday ER Visits

Kristy Crowley - Dec 15, 2021
holiday er visits

So, you’ve just started your clinical rotations and a major holiday is coming up. And it’s no secret that the holiday season corresponds with increased hospital visits.  As a medical student, this means one thing: it's time to prepare yourself for the ER

Here are five reasons why you may see an influx of patients this holiday season:

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. You can find up-to-date guidelines on treating hypertension here

4. Burns: From accidentally dropping boiling hot gravy to gripping hot pans without a potholder, there are plenty of increased risks for burns. Have the sterile dressing ready!

3. 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. 

2. 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.

1. Respiratory illness: The holiday season is associated with cold temperatures and social gatherings that drive people into relatively enclosed spaces. Unsurprisingly, all of this person-to-person contact makes it more likely for respiratory infections like coronavirus and influenza to spread.

Encourage your patients to practice good hygiene habits year-round. Furthermore, making a doctor’s appointment to receive the yearly influenza vaccine is never a bad idea. In November 2021 the FDA stated that all adults should receive an additional COVID-19 vaccine five months after their most recent dose.

Learn more about COVID-19 and the latest guidelines 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.