Emergency doctor weighs in on rise in ER visits during Calgary Stampede
The Calgary Stampede always provides the city with a boost in tourism dollars, hotel bookings and cowboy hats, but another number also goes up: visits to the emergency room.
According to a University of Calgary study conducted in 2017, ER visits go up by two per cent during Stampede compared to the weeks before and after the 10-day event. The study looked at data from 2013 to 2015, and Dr. Andrew McRae –an emergency physician at the Foothills Medical Centre — said that 2018 numbers are following the same trends.
That number may seem manageable, but McRae said the real crunch time comes later in the evening.
“We see most of the increase at night, after 8 p.m. The biggest volume increase that we see are patients with alcohol- and substance-related complaints as well as injuries from accidents and interpersonal violence.”
The same study shows that serious cuts and lacerations are more likely during Stampede than at other times, increasing by 13 per cent and 19 per cent, respectively. Overnight visits that are triaged to minor treatment areas also increase 15 per cent throughout Stampede week.
“The Calgary Stampede provokes appreciable changes in overall emergency department and urgent care utilization with marked increases in nighttime visits, visits by men, trauma or substance abuse-related complaints and minor treatment visits,” reads the study. “The effects are most pronounced at sites geographically closest to the event grounds.”
Temperatures in the low- to mid-30s have also often resulted in a rise in heat exhaustion and dehydration during the first weekend of Stampede, but McRae said the numbers for those incidents fell in line with any other hot summer weekend.
If you’re going down to the Stampede grounds, McRae’s advice is to bring a hat, wear sunscreen and mix in a water or electrolyte-heavy beverage if you’re going to be drinking.
The Calgary Stampede released a statement in response to the rise in ER visits.
“The safety of our guests at Stampede Park is our highest priority. We believe in supporting responsible behaviour through our AGLC Pro Serve program and through training. We encourage everyone to Stampede safely as we gather to enjoy this community celebration.”
Study methods: The University of Calgary study conducted a retrospective chart review utilizing a citywide electronic database that captured all emergency department (ED) and urgent care (UC) visits in Calgary. They extracted daily census data at each of the five EDs and two UCs in Calgary. Data was further stratified by time of registration, patient gender, CTAS level, CEDIS complaint category, and ICD diagnosis at discharge. For the years 2013 to 2015, daily average data for the official Stampede event dates were compared to the 21 days immediately preceding and following the event as a comparator. Dates were selected to incorporate a similar proportion of weekends and weekdays in the Stampede and non-Stampede periods. Researchers performed a post-hoc analysis on the same variables, excluding the departments least likely impacted by the mass gathering for demographic and geographic reasons.
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