It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year—But Not at the ER

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The holiday season is a busy time of the year. From parties and cookie swaps to decorating the tree and taking pictures with Santa, there is no rest for the weary at Christmastime. But you’re not the only busy one—emergency rooms often see a significant uptick in patients during the holiday season. Some hospitals treat as many as 10%-15% more patients on Christmas Day than other days of the year.

Why Are Hospitals So Busy During the Holidays?

At this time of the year, people may cheat on their doctor-ordered diets, choosing to eat sodium-rich foods that can exacerbate medical conditions and cause gastrointestinal distress. It’s also common for people to forget to take their prescribed medications, leading to health problems that could land them in the ER.

Hospital waiting rooms also get crowded with patients who have non-life-threatening injuries. Kitchens crowded with family members who are hurriedly trying to cook a holiday meal can be a danger zone. Lacerations from chopping vegetables, mild burns from hot pans, and muscle strains from slipping and falling in the kitchen are all common injuries sustained during the holidays.

Not to mention, this time of year is smack-dab in the middle of cold and flu season, which means there are many people rushing to the ER to get prompt treatment for their flu-like symptoms, especially considering doctors’ offices are often closed around the holidays. What’s more, COVID-19 cases previously saw an uptick during the winter months, so hospitals may be even busier than before this year.

How to Actually Enjoy the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Visiting an emergency room is not on most people’s holiday to-do list, so if you want to stay out of the ER this season, here are some tips to stay healthy:

  • Wash your hands frequently – Everyone knows the drill here: Use soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Take all of your prescribed medications – The holiday season can be a busy one. To make sure you don’t forget a dose, download a medication tracker app like Medisafe that will send you a daily reminder.
  • Don’t overindulge – There’s no need to overindulge during your holiday parties and meals. A good rule of thumb is to load up on the foods you don’t normally eat year-round and eat smaller portions of anything else.
  • Stay active – A 20-minute walk outside after a meal will not only help you digest your food, but it will also help to moderate your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Skip the ER—Choose At-Home Medical Care

Of course, even the best-laid plans may go awry, and you may end up needing medical attention during the holidays. But why visit a busy, overcrowded emergency room when you have a non-life-threatening injury or illness? With DispatchHealth, you don’t even have to leave your holiday get-together if you need immediate care. We’ll dispatch a highly qualified medical team right to your home, and they will arrive with a fully equipped medical kit that has many of the same tools as an emergency room. Our medical teams—which include a physician assistant or nurse practitioner as well as a DispatchHealth Medical Technician (DHMT)—can treat many common injuries and illnesses. They can even complete certain diagnostic tests and medical procedures. At the end of every visit, we complete a detailed clinical summary for our patients’ primary care providers and send any necessary prescriptions to their nearby pharmacies for easy pickup.

The ER is a busy place during the holiday season and the last thing you want to do is spend hours and hours waiting for medical treatment for an acute, non-life-threatening injury or illness. Instead, choose DispatchHealth’s at-home medical service, which lets you stay safely at home while we bring the doctor’s office to you. We’re available every day of the year to serve your needs. Request a visit today!

For life-threatening and time-sensitive injuries and illnesses, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. DispatchHealth shouldn’t be used in a life-threatening emergency and doesn’t replace a primary care provider.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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