Although most people associate Thanksgiving with turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing, the holiday is a bit different for ER doctors and nurses. All of you posted in an ER this holiday season are likely to see a flood of injuries ranging from minor to the extreme and they are caused by a wide range of holiday activities.
One of the most powerful injury statistics happens before the festivities even start- when everyone is still traveling. Thanksgiving is often referred to as the worst holiday for driving and it’s not surprising when, according to the AAA auto club, 90 percent of Turkey Day travelers go by car, resulting in tens of millions of people on highways across the United States- and more cars mean more accidents. In 2010, it was rated the most deadly holiday of the year for car accidents, beating out Christmas and 4th of July. Car accident victims will be filling ERs everywhere, so buckle up and drive safe!
Some of the more minor (hopefully!) injuries on Thanksgiving are often a result of a friendly family football game. A tradition that is cherished by American families is a great way to burn off calories, but also a great way to suffer a concussion, a sprained ankle or a whole host of other maladies.
Another common Thanksgiving injury should not come as a surprise to anyone: Burns. Between stoves, ovens, and deep fryers, just this one day of cooking will result in an average of 4,300 fires and about 150 serious fires and burns occur from deep fryers alone. Plus, those are just the reported incidents. How many people really want to admit that their turkey started on fire?
Those of you in the ER will also see a wide range of more bizarre injuries. Hospitals often see an unusual number of cases of intestinal blockage. Many patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other chronic digestive illnesses ignore the risks of combining turkey, gravy, and stuffing and overwhelm their system. Suddenly the traditional after-dinner nap is in a rolling bed while the family watches the football game in the waiting room! More disturbingly, another common sight in the ER on Thanksgiving is stab wounds and even gunshot wounds from re-opened family feuds (mixed with-more often than not- alcohol). With carving forks, skewers and dinner knives, every family feast comes with a wide variety of sharp objects that do not mix well with holiday stress.
So while some of us are putting on our festive turkey sweaters and treating our families to dinner, others will be wearing their scrubs and treating their patients! For the Turkey Day veteran nurses out there, what other injuries have you seen? Was anything left out?