Not all days in the clinic are created equal. Any practitioner will tell you, some days you feel like the whole world just got sick, and some days almost no one comes in. It’s impossible to predict exactly what-- or how many-- injuries you’ll need to treat on a given day, but there are some days and seasons which increase the likelihood of certain cases. Let’s take a look at which injuries each season and holiday brings about, according to N.P Galaudet Howard. This is, of course, one person’s subjective experience.
Winter, at least up north, has a predictably high number of accidents due to snow and ice. These include:
-Heart attacks from shoveling heavy snow
-Car crash injuries, most commonly whiplash injuries from small fender benders
-Sprained and broken ankles from slipping on ice, sometimes broken wrists too
-Blown-out knees and broken legs from skiing
The winter holidays, like Christmas and Hanukkah, don’t tend to represent an uptick in hospital admissions, except for indigestion (and gallbladder problems) from eating too much of grandma’s pot roast. New Years is the exception, but we’ll get back to that later.
Spring doesn't have many season-specific injuries (no major ones, at least; allergies aren’t injuries). There aren’t really any major holidays then either.
The most major spring-specific injury is spleen and liver lacerations. From what? Lacrosse season and stick checking to the abdomen.
Summer is probably the worst season for weather-specific injuries. Winter may have more bruises and breaks in total, but summer-weekend injuries are surprisingly common and deadly, especially when water is involved. These include:
-Boating accidents (jet ski accidents are the worst)
-Broken necks from diving
-Breaks and sprains from general outdoor activity. The worst ones come from rodeo and horse riding
-Car crashes. The roads aren’t more dangerous, but there are way more people out and about
Summer Double Holiday Special!
The two holidays with the most predictable and dangerous injuries are both in summer.
The 4th of July inevitably results in fireworks burns, especially on childrens’ faces.
Graduation and prom are the foremost causes of the perennial “drunk party driving results in multiple teen deaths” headline. Don’t drink and carpool.
Fall is full of sports injuries, mostly:
-Knee and shoulder injuries from friday night football
-Concussions and knee injuries from soccer
Halloween can have some pretty crazy specific cases (Ms. Howard said her “favorite case was when someone came in with a laceration they got from falling off of their stilts onto a lawn gnome), but there aren’t many holiday-specific injuries (except for the drunk injuries, which we’ll cover soon).
Thanksgiving has a reputation in clinics for having a very predictable injury pattern. It goes as follows:
-Cooking injuries in the morning and early afternoon: lacerations from broken glass and cutting (bagels and avocados especially)
-Sports injuries in the afternoon: broken fingers and stained knees from touch football
-G.I. issues in the evening after supper: indigestion and gallbladder problems from overeating
-Boxer’s fractures late at night (from punching the wall or the fridge in anger)
There is a commonality to all the holiday injuries: all of them occur more often when someone is drunk. There are a few injuries which almost exclusively happen around alcohol; often these are the leading reason for the injury-rate spike around on holidays like New Year’s eve and Halloween. The most common injuries are:
-Mysterious morning bruises and sprains: by far the most common, though the least dangerous.
-Car crashes: also unfortunately common, and often deadly.
-Freezing/hypothermia: passing out in a snowbank drunk is a great way to lose some fingers or your life.
-Drowning + boating accidents: alcohol and water do not mix. Enough said.
-Boxer’s fractures (from fighting): sometimes the knuckle can get infected after getting cut on someone else’s teeth and getting human saliva in the wound, resulting in a surprisingly dangerous and fast acting joint infection which can easily result in permanent loss of finger function if untreated.
-Untraceable STIs: if you don’t know what (or who) happened last night, you can’t contact trace.
No matter the time of year, inebriation is one of the leading causes of preventable injury. If you want to work in an urgent care center or emergency room, expect not only to have to treat the problem, but to work with inebriated patients. Especially on holidays.
Thank you to N.P Gallaudet Howard for her perspective on the yearly cycles of injury.