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Emergency rooms

Injured men finish watching sports on TV before going to emergency room

Thursday, October 12, 2006 by: Ben Kage
Tags: emergency rooms, men's health, health news


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(NewsTarget) A study of emergency room case numbers over a three-year period at University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore found that the number of men visiting the emergency room drops significantly during televised sports events, and surges afterward.

Dr. Tom Scaletta, president of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, said the study was not surprising, and that he saw similar behavior when he used to run the emergency clinic during games at Wrigley Field, for which he earned an extra $100 a game.

"It was a two-stage decision: If they were hurt, whether to go to the hospital or not. If they needed to go to the hospital, could they finish the game or not?" he said.

About one-third of the patients told to go to a hospital asked if they could wait until after the game, Scaletta estimated, but noted that people having a heart attack or stroke usually did not make such a request. He theorized at least one game tradition could contribute to the behavior.

"Alcohol, of course, does change the logic stream for a lot of people," he said.

According to Dr. David Jerrard, who conducted the study and announced the results Wednesday at a meeting of emergency physicians, this is a follow-up to a study he did two years ago. That study found that Baltimore hospitals get 30 percent fewer men checking in during sports broadcasts.

His new study specifically looks at a four-hour period beginning 30 minutes after a televised game of the NFL, major league baseball, and football and basketball games involving University of Maryland teams. Those time periods showed about a 40 percent increase in ER visits compared to the same day and time without televised sports events.

"It's sort of common sense," said UCLA emergency medicine professor Dr. Larry Baraff, although he noted he had never noticed the pattern himself. "If you've got a certain thing you can delay for an hour or two and something you want to do, you'll do it. Hopefully they're not delaying treatment for serious chest pains, but I find that unlikely."

Jerrard said he intends to focus on the conditions treated after games for his next study, but did not care to guess how much of the injury spike could be attributed to post-game fights.

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