Holiday healthcare

I haven’t been in medicine for very long, but it doesn’t take long to figure out the disturbing pattern of hospital admissions around the holidays: very few patients in the hospital ON a holiday but many more before and after the holiday. 

Now, I completely understand someone not wanting to be in the hospital on a holiday – that part is not disturbing to me.  It’s the poor judgment surrounding the other admissions.  A holiday is a sort of “weeder” day – it weeds out the unnecessary admissions.  But, it also keeps legitimate people out of the hospital when they should be seeking care – the classic being someone with chest pain who just blames it on heartburn from the recent poor eating habits.  Far too many people have the attitude of “I’ll just wait until after Christmas before getting this checked out.”  Another factor with the holidays, of course, is that there will be no routine scheduled elective surgeries, especially one that would require overnight admission. 

There are reasons for an increase in admissions after the holidays, too, but I think a lot of it is just plain stubbornness.  The term “Holiday heart” has been applied to atrial fibrillation occurring around the holidays because of increased alcohol intake.  There often is a spike in admissions for congestive heart failure, also, because of increased salt intake (just have to indulge in that ham). 

Just please don’t be the admission for alcohol-related issues, e.g. injuries, alcohol poisoning, etc.  Trust me, you’ll look pretty stupid when it was because of your own drinking . . . and no one will be happy to cater to you in the hospital. 

Be responsible and seek attention when it is needed.  Don’t try to tough it out longer than you would at any other time of the year.  Merry Christmas!

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