Last Christmas day the Hospital’s Emergency Department saw 139 patients which amounted to many concerned family members and disrupted plans.
Emergency Department Director Dr Clare Skinner said there are some common occurrences that land people in the hospital, and most of them could have been avoided.
“Every year we see a lot of cut fingers, food poisoning, heat related illness and accidents. We do see some gift related injuries but not as many as you’d think,” she said.
“The most memorable was an 86 year old woman who broke both her hips after receiving rollerblades from her granddaughter. This really highlights the importance of age-appropriate gifts.
“Toys with button batteries are another hazard. Even if you suspect your child has swallowed one get them to the ED straight away. You’re never wasting our time.”
Clare also warns of the dangers of alcohol which can make common, slightly hazardous activities even more hazardous.
“After too many drinks, activities like swimming, cooking, climbing a ladder or even riding a bicycle can land someone in trouble and in the Emergency Department. Even if you don’t drink, tiredness can have the same effect,” she said.
A mixture of alcohol, family stress, heat and travel also means far too many are injured or die on the road.
“Everyone should take extra care of themselves and those around them this time of year - especially the very young, the very frail and those who might find it a sad time.
“We try to make Christmas a special time for anyone who finds themselves in the ED. But still, a hospital visit is not really what anyone wants for their families over the holiday break.”
It only takes a little time to be safe and ensure the whole family has a memorable and happy Christmas,” Dr Skinner said.
All NSW hospital emergency departments will operate as normal throughout the holiday period.
All are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week all year round for emergencies.
Dr Skinner’s top 5 tips for a safe Christmas:
1. Every year we see patients visiting the Emergency Department to get repeat prescriptions for medications to treat chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure. Try to plan ahead, particularly if you are going away on holiday.
2. Food poisoning is not only uncomfortable and inconvenient but can result in hospitalisation. Use separate cutting boards for raw and cooked foods – especially meats, don’t leave perishable foods out of the refrigerator for more than two hours and always wash your hands before preparing food or after handling raw food.
3. The ED sees far too many drownings this time of year. Parties, alcohol and distractions can mean someone can get into trouble without anyone noticing. Keep a close eye on children around water and make sure tourists know to swim between the flags.
4. Summer days coupled with alcohol consumption can result in heat related sickness which can be deadly for older people. It can also result in accidents for the healthy. Stay hydrated, make sure there is shade available and keep an eye on your more vulnerable family members and friends. Keep them in air conditioning if possible.
5. Road accidents have become a common theme during the holiday period but it’s not something we should accept as normal. If you are travelling, take lots of breaks and drive slowly on unfamiliar roads. And don’t drive when you’re tired. A road accident may not only ruin your Christmas, it could ruin your life.