The impact of a temporary ice-rink on an emergency department service

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Abstract

Background

A temporary ice-rink opened close to Cork city for 6 weeks from 30 November 2003. During this time, a number of patients presented to the local emergency departments with ice-skating-related injuries. We documented these injuries.

Methods

All patients presenting to emergency departments in Cork city with ice-skating-related complaints were included. Information on age and sex, mechanism of injury, diagnosis, follow-up/disposition and ambulance service utilization was recorded.

Results

One hundred and twenty-five ice-rink-related attendances were reported at Cork emergency departments, representing 1.25% of total attendances. One hundred and twenty-three patients presented with skating-related injuries and two with medical complaints occurring at the ice-rink: 70.8% were female patients and 29.2% were male patients. In the 4–14-year age group, however, 48.5% were girls and 51.5% were boys. Most injuries were directly due to falls; 5.6% were due to skate blades. The commonest site of injury was the upper limb. Fractures and dislocations accounted for 53.9% of injuries, with 20.5% of these requiring orthopaedic admission. Lacerations and digital injuries accounted for 7.1%, with 11% of these required admission for surgery. One minor head injury was reported. 38.1% had soft tissue injuries. Fifteen patients were transported by ambulance. These attendances represented a minimum overall cost of €77 510 to the local health service.

Conclusions

A temporary ice-rink had a significant impact on local emergency departments. Currently, there is no specific legislation in Ireland relating to public health and safety in ice-rinks. We recommend consultation with local public bodies before opening such facilities, and appropriate regulation.

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