The recent snowfall “seriously affected the running of our general hospital service,” say Dr Alice Clarke and colleagues at Worcestershire Royal Hospital. As well as staffing problems and poor clinic attendance rates, the icy weather also brought the expected increased number of falls causing fractures, bruises, and strains, they write.
They also saw an increase in sledging injuries, a large number of which were associated with sledging at night or after the consumption of alcohol.
“Within three days, we saw 20 orthopaedic injuries caused by sledging, which occurred in all age groups and varied in severity from minor fractures to serious injuries,” they explain.
One patient needed surgery for a ruptured spleen, and another “had a de-gloving injury of the scrotum and buttocks.” [de-gloving refers to skin shearing off]. “In a previous cold spell, a patient died after hitting a tree at speed,” they add.
“We therefore emphasise the dangers of sledging and recommend that it is avoided in poor light and after drinking alcohol,” they conclude.
Letter: “Sledges are snow joke”,
Alice E Clarke et al.
BMJ 2013;346:f700 doi: 10.1136/bmj.f700