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Ringing in the New Year


Garth King, MD, a hospitalist and medical director at Southwest General Medical Center in Lafayette, La., wasn’t surprised he was treating an inebriated 17-year-old who came to the hospital with his mother this past New Year's Eve. The intoxicated 14-year-old who came in shortly after, however, did throw him slightly off guard.

"We usually just send them to the emergency room, where they are monitored," Dr. King says. "It's a waste of resources to admit them."

Kenneth Patrick, MD, a hospitalist and ICU director at Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia, says alcohol-related conditions, including gastritis and pancreatitis, are the most common cases he sees on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. The second-most common, he says, are fractures caused by slipping on ice or snow.

"New Year's Day is the busiest day of the year for inpatients," Dr. Patrick says.

National data on daily hospital visits don't exist, but Dr. King agrees with Dr. Patrick's assessment. He says the number of patients his group normally sees doubles between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. "In residency, I remember this would happen," he says. "It would seem like family members would bring in their family members, just because."

If you are one of the unfortunate members of your HM group scheduled to work next holiday season, Dr. Patrick offers a little advice: "Stay well-hydrated and get lots of rest, because you will be busy."

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