Monday, June 13, 2011
A Bad Case of Hockey Fever
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When Dr. Donald Redelmeier studies something, the headlines almost write themselves. His quirky yet intriguing research has uncovered some unique and important gems: election day can be fatal (more traffic and rushed drivers), texting and driving can be deadly (yup, he’s the one that make the link) and now the newest research on hockey and health: when the big games are on, emergency department visits drop like a puck at centre ice.
During one particular shift at Sunnybrook last year, Dr. Redelmeier noticed how unusually quiet things seemed. Turns out, it was the day of the Olympic gold medal hockey game, reported by broadcasters as being the highest-rated game ever in Canadian history. Coincidence? He thought not. He set out to study his observation and found that indeed, Ontario’s emergency departments saw 136 fewer patients per hour during that 3 hour broadcast. The biggest drop was seen in middle-aged men. (I’d love to see what beer sales were that day!)
To get the first-hand scoop on this, I went to talk to Teresa Korogyi, the Patient Care Manager for Sunnybrook’s emergency department. Sure enough, it came as no surprise to her that big sporting events of all kinds have an impact. “A lot of times people register before the game and it would be six, seven o’clock and the first thing they say is, how long is it going to be? I’ve to be out of here at seven-thirty, the game is on tonight and I have to see it!”
The important thing is, don’t let your buddies smack talk you into ignoring that shooting chest pain as just a consequence of the bucket of wings you just consumed. In other words, come to the hospital if you need to, when you need to. It’s really never a convenient time to be sick, but you can at least rest assured that there is a television in the waiting room. Now there’s something to bet your life on.