Don’t meet us by accident this Christmas
Brisbane’s busiest Emergency Department is urging all Queenslanders to take care this Christmas as hospital staff prepare for an influx of patients during the summer break.
The Prince Charles Hospital’s Emergency Department Director, Dr Colin Myers said the Christmas–New Year period is notoriously busy for Emergency Departments across the state.
“No one wants to spend Christmas or New Year in a hospital, but each year, our staff see an increase in a range of presentations varying from the serious such as road accident trauma to sporting accidents and acute sunburn,” Dr Myers said.
“Over the festive season, people tend to let their hair down and take unnecessary risks to their personal safety and the safety of others. Last Christmas day, our Emergency Department treated 131 adults and 42 children. New Year was even busier with a total of 220 presentations – 49 in paediatrics and 171 adults.”
Dr Myers said these statistics are not unique to The Prince Charles Hospital with Emergency Departments across Queensland expecting an increase in presentations.
“At Prince Charles, we tend to see an increase in people presenting with abdominal pain, gastro, excess alcohol consumption and the consequent injuries that may result from people’s decision-making being impaired,” Dr Myers said.
“We also respond to injuries from DIY projects and Christmas toys, including head injuries and lacerations, many of which could have been avoided.”
The popularity of DIY shows on television and the expanding DIY market is seeing an increase in the number of people presenting to Emergency Departments, especially around the holiday season.
In particular, the number of ladder-related falls has risen nationally by 46 per cent in the last ten years – mostly during home and garden DIY projects.
Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF) researcher and emergency medicine specialist Dr Ogilvie Thom said many hospitals are now seeing at least one ladder fall presentation in the Emergency Department every three days and at least one third of those patients need to be hospitalised with serious injuries.
“In the past decade across Australia, there have been 200,000 emergency presentations and 50,000 hospitalisations as a result of ladder falls, most of which have happened at home,” Dr Thom said.
“Preliminary research suggested alcohol and prescription drugs played a role in a number of these falls. This trend has sparked the need for a new research to determine causes and possible preventions.
“The findings of our research will be used to assist in prevention and safety campaigns to help combat this trend across Australia.’’
Dr Myers said it’s important for families who are planning to do home renovations these holidays to take extra care and put safety first.
“Over the years, there have been many incidents that come through our doors that make our staff scratch their heads in amazement and without going into too much detail – alcohol and power tools don’t mix.”
“Christmas is no doubt a fun time for families, but it can also be very isolating and lonely for others. Sadly, we tend to also see an increase in mental health presentations.
“I strongly encourage people to take proper care of themselves, their loved ones and others during the festive season, and please, don’t meet us by accident.”
Don’t meet us by accident – top tips for holiday health:
- Moderate alcohol consumption, particularly on New Year’s Eve. Don’t drink and drive.
- Ensure Christmas gifts such as bicycles and scooters are accompanied by protective gear such as helmets and kneepads and are used under appropriate supervision. For adults, be careful when using new equipment including kitchen appliances and power tools, particularly under the influence of alcohol.
- If using a ladder for a DIY project or an annual chore, such as gutter-cleaning, ensure another adult is assisting you for safety and that you are not under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs.
- Keep hydrated with plenty of water, wear protective clothes and sunscreen especially on very hot days
- Keep an eye on loved ones and neighbours who live on their own to make sure they’re okay
- Do not leave food out in the heat and keep leftovers in the fridge and only for a few days
- Keep a close eye on children, particularly around water
- Check on your neighbours, particularly the elderly
Emergency: People who are experiencing heart or breathing problems or who are in need of urgent medical attention should always attend their local hospital emergency department or call triple Zero (000).
Non-urgent: If it is not life-threatening, please contact your GP. If you are looking for a GP in your area, please access the National Health Service Directory at www.nhsd.com.au
Health advice: Call 13 Health (13 43 25 84) for medical advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the cost of a local call, with Registered Nurses available to give qualified advice.
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