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A&E attendances due to slips and falls soar 425% during icy weather

The huge uptick in fall injuries came as the area endured wintry weather (Alamy/PA)
The huge uptick in fall injuries came as the area endured wintry weather (Alamy/PA)

Hospital staff in parts of Scotland hit by wintry weather have reported a 425% increase in patients due to slips, trips and falls in just one week.

NHS Grampian said staff at its hospitals treated 84 patients who had fallen on Thursday, compared with 16 on the same day last week.

Around 35% of the patients seen on Thursday had suffered a head injury.

It came as the region was hit by snow and ice.

The patients were treated at the A&E units at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, and at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin, Moray.

Emergency department consultant Catharina Hartman said: “The winter weather is having a huge impact on our hospitals.

“The best advice is to avoid going out when it is icy. If you have to, take extra care and go very slowly.

“We see more falls when the weather is like this, and they are worse than the typical presentations. That has consequences for the length of time that we need to spend with a patients.

“As people get older, are more frail and on specific medications – for example warfarin and other anticoagulation medications – for them in particular, the falls, the injuries and the head injuries are particularly worrisome and can become life-threatening.

“It has a massive impact on our emergency departments. We are extremely busy with patients coming in all the time.

“When you fall, take stock – are you able to move all your limbs and joints? If you can, slowly but surely get up and get going. If you are able to stand and walk, then that is safe to do. Then take some pain relief.

“We often see patients who haven’t taken any analgesia before arriving at hospital and that simple intervention can allow us to do a better evaluation of what the injury is, but also provide comfort to the patient, who has attended because they are in pain.

“If you have a small amount of swelling, please try resting it at home, icing it and elevating it. If anything is looking completely out of place, it is a head or neck injury or there’s a big wound, that is when you need to come to the emergency department straight away.

“Typically, if there is no swelling, or very little swelling and you are able to move freely, you can be fairly reassured it is not going to be a bad fracture.

“We see swelling with sprains and other soft tissue injuries as well, but if there’s no swelling then you can be assured it is nothing serious.”