Hospitals brace for July 4th injury spike

Hospitals across the country are finalizing staffing plans and issuing public warnings on fireworks safety ahead of the July Fourth holiday, when an average of around 91,000 patients visit emergency departments. 

"We are entirely staffed up for both the Fourth of July as well as the 5th of July," Aekta Miglani, MD, medical director of the emergency department at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y., told CBS affiliate WROC. "Every year we work really closely with our trauma division who we're lucky to collaborate with on a regular basis, but Fourth of July is one of those holidays where we'll be working [together] my guess is more frequently than others." 

On average, emergency departments see nearly 45,000 people daily on July 4 and 5, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of injury data from 2000 to 2018. In 2022, fireworks were involved in an estimated 10,200 injuries treated across hospital emergency departments, though physicians believe that number is much greater, since not everyone seeks care. 

"We'll see injuries caused by firecrackers that explode in close range and from sparklers that, when mishandled, caused severe burns to the face, hands and feet," Gary Gillette, MD, emergency medicine physician at HCA Florida North Florida Hospital, said in a news release regarding safety tips and emergency department locations for the public. Pew Research Center data shows burns, bruises and cuts are the most common types of fireworks-related injuries. 

Meanwhile, COVID-19 activity is rising in many areas of the country, including ED visits. For the week ending June 22, ED visits related to an infection virus rose 23% from the previous week Hawaii and Florida had the highest percentage of ED visits diagnosed as COVID-19 at 5.1% and 1.8%, respectively. Hospitalizations appear to be increasing slightly, though the trends are based on a subset of hospitals that continue to voluntarily report the data to the agency. As of May 1, hospitals are no longer required to report COVID-19 and flu admissions data.

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