Emergency rooms prepare for a busy New Year’s Eve

Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – This weekend could bring the perfect storm of New Year’s celebrations and hospital visits.

To prepare, area emergency rooms at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville and Shady Grove Adventist Emergency Center in Germantown are bringing in extra staff in anticipation of more people ending up in the ER, especially since New Year’s Eve is falling on a Saturday.

Emergency care experts blame an increase in ER visits last year on the fact that New Year’s Eve fell on a Friday night.

“Related to the fact that the holiday falls on a weekend, people think they have an extra day to recover from their celebrating,” says Dr. Jonathan Wenk, an emergency physician for both Shady Grove medical centers.

But Wenk says he and his colleagues are prepared to handle the possible rush. In addition to the beefed-up staff, the doctor says the hospital has the ability to call in additional help if needed.

Studies show that on New Year’s Eve, nearly four times as many people are admitted to the emergency room than on any other day of the year. And of course, most injuries are alcohol-related.

“Every year there is an increase in excessive alcohol intake,” Wenk says. He says that covers the gamut from simple intoxication to fatal car accidents.

Meanwhile, the doctor says the emergency rooms are already busy.

“This time of year we are seeing a dramatic spike in volume in the emergency department, related to all sorts of things like the flu and infectious illnesses that are out there right now,” he says.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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