Emergency room visits in Ontario, Canada, dropped 17 percent during the 2010 Olympic gold medal hockey match, leading researchers to believe that as many as one in six emergency room visits are not strictly necessary. The biggest reduction of visits in the study was seen among people who had abdominal pain, trauma or problems with the musculoskeletal system, such as joint pain. The study did note a small increase in the number of cardiac emergencies during the match, though.
More facts about sporting events and ER visits:
- The Canadian study isn't a one-time thing. During the 1998 World Cup soccer championship match, which was held in France, there were 30 percent fewer heart attack deaths among French men, and the number of people seeking outpatient medical care also decreased significantly in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics.
- About 123.8 million people visit the ER in the United States every year, although only about 42.4 million of those go in with injuries. Slightly less than 20 percent of ER patients in the U.S. receive care within 15 minutes.
- About 10 percent of visits to the ER in the U.S. are considered non-urgent.