Trauma unit attendance: Is there a relationship with weather, sporting events and week/ month-end times? An audit at an urban tertiary trauma unit in Cape Town
Background: The Groote Schuur Hospital Trauma Unit is a high-volume referral center where patient volumes may be related to temporal and environmental factors.
Objective: This audit aimed to determine if numbers of patients presenting after motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) and interpersonal violence (IPV) were related to temporal factors, weather variables and important soccer matches.
Method: Numbers of patients presenting to the unit per shift over 17 months were obtained from unit logs. Weather data, local soccer match locations and results, and information regarding public holidays and long weekends were obtained for the relevant shifts. Average daily attendances for IPV-related injuries and MVCs were compared across the various external factors described. Poisson regression models were fitted and used to express the relative incidence of attendances. These results are expressed using incidence rate ratios (IRRs).
Results: For the study period, 7 350 attendances due to IPV-related injuries, and 3 188 injuries due to MVCs were recorded. Weekdays, long-weekend nights and month-end weekends had increased MVC-related attendance. Precipitation also increased attendances related to MVCs. Public holidays had less MVC-related attendance. IPV-related attendances were increased at night, on long weekends, and on month-end weekends. Weekend shifts were busier than weekday shifts, particularly at month-end. Long weekends showed similar trends to ordinary weekends, and public holidays showed similar trends to ordinary weekdays. Increasing temperatures are associated with increased attendances. Soccer matches and their outcomes have no significant effect on IPV-related attendances.
Conclusion: Temporal and weather factors can help predict which trauma unit shifts will be busiest.
Keywords: trauma unit, assault, motor vehicle collision, weather, temperature, sport