Orthomageddon: A retrospective cohort study of weather-dependent variations in emergency department volume in a Canadian city

AB-EL-Weather-Dependent Variations in ED

Alberta (ED)

Unique meteorological conditions can cause unprecedented spikes in fall-related presentations to the emergency department (ED). The dramatic increase in volume can overload Emergency Medical Services, EDs, and related consulting services, particularly orthopedics [1]. Several weather-related overloading events within Calgary EDs, dubbed “Orthomageddon” events by hospital staff, prompted this research. “Orthomageddon” is a colloquial term that refers to the dramatic increase in orthopedic fall-injuries on particular winter dates. Previous work has examined fall-injuries in the Calgary area and determined Chinook events to be significant volume predictors, with elevated volumes one day post-Chinook [1]. Chinooks (or Foehns) occur when warm, dry, easterly winds caused by moist, Pacific air condense as they cross the Rocky Mountains. Winds can cause rapid changes in temperature, leading to snowmelt. Chinooks are common in areas of Canada and the United States just east of the Rocky Mountains, and are present in areas with similar geographies. If followed by freezing conditions, sheets of ice frequently form on sidewalks and driveways [2]. What is currently unknown is if unique weather conditions inflate ED fall volumes, and if specific demographic groups are susceptible to falls during Chinook events due to slippery surfaces. Previous research in the absence of unique weather has indicated older individuals and females are more likely to fall during periods of high snow and ice build-up [3].

Authors: Matthew Yeungn, Christina Schweitzer, Dongmei Wang, Colin Weaver, Eddy Lang

The study objectives were to identify if forecastable night-freezing or Chinook events can predict fracture presentations spikes and identify differences in individuals presenting to the ED on high-volume dates and on non-high-volume dates.

Eddy Lang - eddy.lang@ahs.ca

Preliminary data gathering/ baseline