A&E trips for slips and falls in icy weather rose 425%, say healthboard

NHS Grampian have issued safety advice amid rocketing numbers of visits to emergency departments.

Patients attending A&E for slips and falls in icy weather rose 425% across NHS Grampian iStock

Patients attending one of Scotland’s busiest emergency departments for slips, trips and falls have risen by 425%.

The number of patients attending A&E across NHS Grampian for injuries resulting from slips, trips and falls rocketed following a spell of wintry weather.

Medics treated 84 patients who had fallen on Thursday compared with just 16 on the same day a week prior.

Around 35% of those patients had suffered from head injuries.

The patients were all seen at emergency departments at Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital; Dr Gray’s Hospital, in Elgin; and Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. 

The healthboard are now urging residents to take safety measures in icy conditions.

Emergency Department consultant Catharina Hartman said: “The winter weather is having a huge impact on our hospitals. 

“The best advice is to avoid going out when it is icy. If you have to, take extra care and go very slowly. 

“We see more falls when the weather is like this, and they are worse than the typical presentations. That has consequences for the length of time that we need to spend with a patients. 

“As people get older, are more frail and on specific medications – for example warfarin and other anticoagulation medications – for them in particular the falls, the injuries and the head injuries are particularly worrisome and can become life-threatening. 

“It has a massive impact on our emergency departments. We are extremely busy with patients coming in all the time.” 

Ms Hartman also issued advice on when to attend hospital and when to call NHS 24 or 111 or to self-medicate.

She said: “When you fall, take stock – are you able to move all your limbs and joints? If you can, slowly but surely get up and get going. If you are able to stand and walk, then that is safe to do. Then take some pain relief. 

“We often see patients who haven’t taken any analgesia before arriving at hospital and that simple intervention can allow us to do a better evaluation of what the injury is but also provide comfort to the patient, who has attended because they are in pain.” 

She added: “If you have a small amount of swelling, please try resting it at home, icing it and elevating it. If anything is looking completely out of place, it is a head or neck injury or there’s a big wound, that is when you need to come to the Emergency Department straight away. 

“Typically, if there is no swelling, or very little swelling and you are able to move freely, you can be fairly reassured it is not going to be a bad fracture. 

“We see swelling with sprains and other soft tissue injuries as well, but if there’s no swelling then you can be assured it is nothing serious. 

“Put an ice pack on the injured part, elevate it and take pain relief. You can also consult the NHS Inform website for more advice before heading to hospital.”

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