The treatment of burn injuries requires high-cost services for healthcare and society. Automatic fire sprinklers are a preventive measure that can decrease fire injuries, deaths, property damage and environmental toxins. This study’s aim was to conduct a cost-analysis of patients with burn or inhalation injuries due to residential fires, and to compare this to the cost of implementing residential automatic fire sprinklers.
We conducted a cohort analysis of adult burn patients admitted to our provincial burn center (1995–2012). Patient demographics and injury characteristics were collected from medical records, and clinical and coroner databases. Resource costs included average cost per day at our intensive care and rehabilitation program, transportation, and property loss.
During the study period there were 1,557 residential fire-related deaths province-wide and 1,139 patients were admitted to our provincial burn center due to a flame injury occurring at home. At our burn center, the average cost was CAN$84,678 per patient with a total cost of CAN$96,448,194. All resources totaled CAN$3,605,775,200. This study shows the considerable healthcare costs of burn patients from homes without fire sprinklers.
Burn injuries; automatic fire sprinklers; inhalation injuries; economic health care costs; residential fire prevention
Fluoroquinolone-associated tendon ruptures are a recognised complication, but other severe collagen-associated adverse events may also be possible. Our objectives were to confirm the association of fluoroquinolones and tendon rupture, to clarify the potential association of fluoroquinolones and retinal detachment, and to test for a potentially lethal association between fluoroquinolones and aortic aneurysms.
Population-based longitudinal cohort study in Ontario, Canada.
Older adults turning 65 years between April 1 1997 and March 31 2012 were followed until primary outcome, death, or end of follow-up (March 31 2014). Fluoroquinolone prescriptions were measured as a time-varying covariate, with patients considered at risk during and for 30 days following a treatment course.
Primary outcome measures
Severe collagen-associated adverse events defined as tendon ruptures, retinal detachments and aortic aneurysms diagnosed in hospital and emergency departments.
Among the 1 744 360 eligible patients, 657 950 (38%) received at least one fluoroquinolone during follow-up, amounting to 22 380 515 days of treatment. The patients experienced 37 338 (2.1%) tendon ruptures, 3246 (0.2%) retinal detachments, and 18 391 (1.1%) aortic aneurysms. Severe collagen-associated adverse events were more common during fluoroquinolone treatment than control periods, including tendon ruptures (0.82 vs 0.26/100-person years, p<0.001), retinal detachments (0.03 vs 0.02/100-person-years, p=0.003) and aortic aneurysms (0.35 vs 0.13/100-person-years, p<0.001). Current fluoroquinolones were associated with an increased hazard of tendon rupture (HR 3.13, 95% CI 2.98 to 3.28; adjusted HR 2.40, 95% CI 2.24 to 2.57) and an increased hazard of aortic aneurysms (HR 2.72, 95% CI 2.53 to 2.93; adjusted HR2.24, 95% CI 2.02 to 2.49) that were substantially greater in magnitude than the association of these outcomes with amoxicillin. The hazard of retinal detachment was marginal (HR 1.28, 95% CI 0.99 to 1.65; adjusted HR 1.47, 95% CI 1.08 to 2.00) and not greater in magnitude than that observed with amoxicillin.
Fluoroquinolones are associated with subsequent tendon ruptures and may also contribute to aortic aneurysms.
The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence of mental health problems among a representative sample of homeless women with and without dependent children and determine if the effects of risk factors for mental health are modified by the presence of dependent children. Homeless women (n=522) were recruited in 2004–2005 from shelters and meal programs in Toronto, Canada. Linear and logistic regression was performed to identify factors associated with mental health status. Poor mental health was associated with low perceived access to social support, physical/sexual assault in the past 12 months, presence of a chronic health condition, and presence of a drug use problem in the past month. Efforts to improve mental health in this population will need to address the associated problems of victimization, substance abuse, and lack of social supports.
Mental health; Women; Homeless persons; SF-12; Addiction Severity Index
Preference-based tempo-pace synchronized music has been shown to reduce perceived physical activity exertion and improve exercise performance. The extent to which such strategies can improve adherence to physical activity remains unknown. The objective of the study is to explore the feasibility and efficacy of tempo-pace synchronized preference-based music audio-playlists on adherence to physical activity among cardiovascular disease patients participating in a cardiac rehabilitation.
Thirty-four cardiac rehabilitation patients were randomly allocated to one of two strategies: (1) no music usual-care control and (2) tempo-pace synchronized audio-devices with personalized music playlists + usual-care. All songs uploaded onto audio-playlist devices took into account patient personal music genre and artist preferences. However, actual song selection was restricted to music whose tempos approximated patients’ prescribed exercise walking/running pace (steps per minute) to achieve tempo-pace synchrony. Patients allocated to audio-music playlists underwent further randomization in which half of the patients received songs that were sonically enhanced with rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS) to accentuate tempo-pace synchrony, whereas the other half did not. RAS was achieved through blinded rhythmic sonic-enhancements undertaken manually to songs within individuals’ music playlists. The primary outcome consisted of the weekly volume of physical activity undertaken over 3 months as determined by tri-axial accelerometers. Statistical methods employed an intention to treat and repeated-measures design.
Patients randomized to personalized audio-playlists with tempo-pace synchrony achieved higher weekly volumes of physical activity than did their non-music usual-care comparators (475.6 min vs. 370.2 min, P < 0.001). Improvements in weekly physical activity volumes among audio-playlist recipients were driven by those randomized to the RAS group which attained weekly exercise volumes that were nearly twofold greater than either of the two other groups (average weekly minutes of physical activity of 631.3 min vs. 320 min vs. 370.2 min, personalized audio-playlists with RAS vs. personalized audio-playlists without RAS vs. non-music usual-care controls, respectively, P < 0.001). Patients randomized to music with RAS utilized their audio-playlist devices more frequently than did non-RAS music counterparts (P < 0.001).
The use of tempo-pace synchronized preference-based audio-playlists was feasibly implemented into a structured exercise program and efficacious in improving adherence to physical activity beyond the evidence-based non-music usual standard of care. Larger clinical trials are required to validate these findings.
ClinicalTrials.gov ID (NCT01752595)
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40798-015-0017-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
To comprehensively assess health care utilization in a population-based sample of homeless adults compared to matched controls under a system of universal health insurance.
Health care utilization was assessed for 1,165 homeless single adult men, single adult women, and adults in families and their age- and sex-matched low-income controls in Toronto, Canada from 2005-2009. Repeated measures general linear models (GLM) were used to calculate risk ratios and 95% confidence intervals.
Homeless participants had mean rates of 9.1 ambulatory care encounters (maximum=141.1), 2.0 emergency department encounters (maximum=104.9), 0.2 medical/surgical hospitalizations (maximum=14.9), and 0.1 psychiatric hospitalizations per person-year (maximum=4.8). Rate ratios comparing homeless participants to matched controls were 1.76 (95% CI: 1.58-1.96) for ambulatory care encounters, 8.48 (95% CI: 6.72-10.70) for emergency department encounters, 4.22 (95% CI: 2.99-5.94) for medical/surgical hospitalizations, and 9.27 (95% CI: 4.42-19.43) for psychiatric hospitalizations.
Within a system of universal health insurance, homeless people have substantially higher rates of emergency department and hospital use compared to general population controls. These differences are largely driven by the subset of homeless persons who are extremely high-intensity users of health services.
Health care utilization; Homeless persons; Matched controls; Ambulatory care; Hospitalization
To identify factors associated with inpatient hospitalizations among a population-based cohort of homeless adults in Toronto, Canada.
Participants were linked to administrative databases to capture hospital admissions during the study period (2005–2009). Logistic regression was used to identify predictors of medical/surgical and psychiatric hospitalizations.
Among 1,165 homeless adults, 20% had a medical/surgical hospitalization and 12% had a psychiatric hospitalization during the study period. These individuals contributed a total of 921 hospitalizations, of which 548 were medical/surgical and 373 were psychiatric. Independent predictors of medical/surgical hospitalization included birth in Canada, having a primary care provider, higher perceived external health locus of control, and lower health status. Independent predictors of psychiatric hospitalization included being a current smoker, having a recent mental health problem, and having a lower perceived internal health locus of control. Being accompanied by a partner or dependent children was protective for hospitalization.
Health care need was a strong predictor of medical/surgical and psychiatric hospitalizations. Some hospitalizations among homeless adults are potentially avoidable, while others represent an unavoidable use of health services.
Hospitalization; Homeless persons; Health care utilization
To identify predictors of emergency department (ED) use among a population-based prospective cohort of homeless adults in Toronto, Canada.
ED visit rates were assessed using administrative data (2005-2009). Logistic regression was used to identify predictors of ED use. Frequent users were defined as participants with rates in the top decile (≥4.7 visits per person-year).
Among 1,165 homeless adults, 892 (77%) had at least one ED visit during the study period. The average rate of ED visits was 2.0 visits/person-year, while frequent users averaged 12.1 visits/person-year. Frequent users accounted for 10% of the sample but contributed over 60% of visits. Predictors of frequent use in adjusted analyses included birth in Canada, higher monthly income, lower health status, perceived unmet mental health needs, and perceived external health locus of control from powerful others; being accompanied by a partner and/or dependent children had a protective effect on frequent use.
Among homeless adults with universal health insurance, a small subgroup accounts for the majority of visits to emergency services. Frequent use was driven by multiple predisposing, enabling, and need factors.
Health care utilization; Emergency department; Homeless persons
information exchange; smartphones; healthcare communication; medical decision-making; mobile technology; clinical efficiency
Cerebral palsy (CP) has a multifactorial etiology, and placental vascular disease may be one major risk factor. The risk of placental vascular disease may be lower among some immigrant groups. We studied the association between immigrant status and the risk of CP.
We conducted a population-based retrospective cohort study of all singleton and twin livebirths in Ontario between 2002–2008, and who survived ≥28 days after birth. Each child was assessed for CP up to age 4 years, based on either a single inpatient or ≥2 outpatient pediatric diagnoses of CP. Relative to non-immigrants (n = 566,668), the risk of CP was assessed for all immigrants (n = 177,390), and further evaluated by World region of origin. Cox proportional hazard ratios (aHR) were adjusted for maternal age, income, diabetes mellitus, obesity, tobacco use, Caesarean delivery, year of delivery, physician visits, twin pregnancy, preterm delivery, as well as small- and large-for-gestational age birthweight.
There were 1346 cases of CP, with a lower rate among immigrants (1.45 per 1000) than non-immigrants (1.92 per 1000) (aHR 0.77, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.67 to 0.88). Mothers from East Asia and the Pacific (aHR 0.54, 95% CI 0.39 to 0.77) and the Caribbean (aHR 0.58, 95% CI 0.37 to 0.93) were at a significantly lower risk of having a child with CP. Whether further adjusting for preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, placental abruption or placental infraction, or upon using a competing risk analysis that further accounted for stillbirth and neonatal death, these results did not change.
Immigration and ethnicity appear to attenuate the risk of CP, and this effect is not fully explained by known risk factors.
Pregnancy causes diverse physiologic and lifestyle changes that may contribute to increased driving and driving error. We compared the risk of a serious motor vehicle crash during the second trimester to the baseline risk before pregnancy.
We conducted a population-based self-matched longitudinal cohort analysis of women who gave birth in Ontario between April 1, 2006, and March 31, 2011. We excluded women less than age 18 years, those living outside Ontario, those who lacked a valid health card identifier under universal insurance, and those under the care of a midwife. The primary outcome was a motor vehicle crash resulting in a visit to an emergency department.
A total of 507 262 women gave birth during the study period. These women accounted for 6922 motor vehicle crashes as drivers during the 3-year baseline interval (177 per mo) and 757 motor vehicle crashes as drivers during the second trimester (252 per mo), equivalent to a 42% relative increase (95% confidence interval 32%–53%; p < 0.001). The increased risk extended to diverse populations, varied obstetrical cases and different crash characteristics. The increased risk was largest in the early second trimester and compensated for by the third trimester. No similar increase was observed in crashes as passengers or pedestrians, cases of intentional injury or inadvertent falls, or self-reported risky behaviours.
Pregnancy is associated with a substantial risk of a serious motor vehicle crash during the second trimester. This risk merits attention for prenatal care.
Elevators are ubiquitous and active inside hospitals, potentially facilitating bacterial transmission. The objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence of bacterial colonization on elevator buttons in large urban teaching hospitals.
A total of 120 elevator buttons and 96 toilet surfaces were swabbed over separate intervals at 3 tertiary care hospitals on weekdays and weekends in Toronto, Ontario. For the elevators, swabs were taken from 2 interior buttons (buttons for the ground floor and one randomly selected upper-level floor) and 2 exterior buttons (the "up" button from the ground floor and the "down" button from the upper-level floor). For the toilet surfaces, swabs were taken from the exterior and interior handles of the entry door, the privacy latch, and the toilet flusher. Samples were obtained using standard bacterial collection techniques, followed by plating, culture, and species identification by a technician blind to sample source.
The prevalence of colonization of elevator buttons was 61% (95% confidence interval 52%–70%). No significant differences in colonization prevalence were apparent in relation to location of the buttons, day of the week, or panel position within the elevator. Coagulase-negative staphylococci were the most common organisms cultured, whereas Enterococcus and Pseudomonas species were infrequent. Elevator buttons had a higher prevalence of colonization than toilet surfaces (61% v. 43%, p = 0.008).
Hospital elevator buttons were commonly colonized by bacteria, although most pathogens were not clinically relevant. The risk of pathogen transmission might be reduced by simple countermeasures.
Unplanned hospital readmission is a complex process, particularly if the patient is readmitted to an acute care institution other than the original hospital. This study tested the hypothesis that readmission to an alternative hospital is associated with increased mortality compared with readmission to the original hospital.
We performed a population-based retrospective cohort analysis set between 1995 and 2010 for all 21 acute care adult general hospitals in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Participants were consecutive adults (age ≥ 18 yr) readmitted through the emergency department within 30 days after hospital discharge. The primary outcome measure was all-cause mortality within 30 days after readmission.
Of the 198 149 patients included in the study, 38 134 (19.2%) died within 30 days after readmission. Patients readmitted to an alternative hospital were more likely than those readmitted to the original hospital to be older, reside in a chronic-care facility and arrive by ambulance. Alternative-hospital readmission was associated with a higher risk of death within 30 days (22.3% v. 18.6%, p < 0.001; odds ratio [OR] 1.26, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.23–1.30). The increased risk was substantially less after adjustment for patient- and hospital-level covariables (adjusted OR 1.06, 95% CI 1.02–1.10). Unadjusted Kaplan–Meier survival curves separated early and the absolute difference in mortality continued throughout the entire 1-year follow-up period, but no difference between groups was observed based on adjusted survival analyses.
Among patients readmitted within 30 days after discharge, readmission to an alternative hospital was associated with a higher risk of death than readmission to the original hospital. Whether this adverse prognosis reflects a true causal relation or residual confounding is unknown.
We compared the accuracy of clinicians and a risk score (iScore) to predict observed outcomes following an acute ischemic stroke.
The JURaSSiC (Clinician JUdgment vs Risk Score to predict Stroke outComes) study assigned 111 clinicians with expertise in acute stroke care to predict the probability of outcomes of 5 ischemic stroke case scenarios. Cases (n = 1,415) were selected as being representative of the 10 most common clinical presentations from a pool of more than 12,000 stroke patients admitted to 12 stroke centers. The primary outcome was prediction of death or disability (modified Rankin Scale [mRS] ≥3) at discharge within the 95% confidence interval (CI) of observed outcomes. Secondary outcomes included 30-day mortality and death or institutionalization at discharge.
Clinicians made 1,661 predictions with overall accuracy of 16.9% for death or disability at discharge, 46.9% for 30-day mortality, and 33.1% for death or institutionalization at discharge. In contrast, 90% of the iScore-based estimates were within the 95% CI of observed outcomes. Nearly half (n = 53 of 111; 48%) of participants were unable to accurately predict the probability of the primary outcome in any of the 5 rated cases. Less than 1% (n = 1) provided accurate predictions in 4 of the 5 cases and none accurately predicted all 5 case outcomes. In multivariable analyses, the presence of patient characteristics associated with poor outcomes (mRS ≥3 or death) in previous studies (older age, high NIH Stroke Scale score, and nonlacunar subtype) were associated with more accurate clinician predictions of death at 30 days (odds ratio [OR] 2.40, 95% CI 1.57–3.67) and with a trend for more accurate predictions of death or disability at discharge (OR 1.85, 95% CI 0.99–3.46).
Clinicians with expertise in stroke performed poorly compared to a validated tool in predicting the outcomes of patients with an acute ischemic stroke. Use of the risk stroke outcome tool may be superior for decision-making following an acute ischemic stroke.
Fallible human judgment may lead clinicians to make mistakes when assessing whether a patient is improving following treatment. This article provides a narrative review of selected studies in psychology that describe errors that potentially apply when a physician assesses a patient's response to treatment. Comprehension may be distorted by subjective preconceptions (lack of double blinding). Recall may fail through memory lapses (unwanted forgetfulness) and tacit assumptions (automatic imputation). Evaluations may be further compromised due to the effects of random chance (regression to the mean). Expression may be swayed by unjustified overconfidence following conformist groupthink (group polarization). An awareness of these five pitfalls may help clinicians avoid some errors in medical care when determining whether a patient is improving.
medical error; fallible reasoning; judgement and decisions; human psychology; patient outcomes; symptom changes
We evaluated the validity of physician billing claims to identify deceased organ donors in large provincial healthcare databases.
We conducted a population-based retrospective validation study of all deceased donors in Ontario, Canada from 2006 to 2011 (n = 988). We included all registered deaths during the same period (n = 458,074). Our main outcome measures included sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of various algorithms consisting of physician billing claims to identify deceased organ donors and organ-specific donors compared to a reference standard of medical chart abstraction.
The best performing algorithm consisted of any one of 10 different physician billing claims. This algorithm had a sensitivity of 75.4% (95% CI: 72.6% to 78.0%) and a positive predictive value of 77.4% (95% CI: 74.7% to 80.0%) for the identification of deceased organ donors. As expected, specificity and negative predictive value were near 100%. The number of organ donors identified by the algorithm each year was similar to the expected value, and this included the pre-validation period (1991 to 2005). Algorithms to identify organ–specific donors performed poorly (e.g. sensitivity ranged from 0% for small intestine to 67% for heart; positive predictive values ranged from 0% for small intestine to 37% for heart).
Primary data abstraction to identify deceased organ donors should be used whenever possible, particularly for the detection of organ-specific donations. The limitations of physician billing claims should be considered whenever they are used.
Drowning deaths are devastating and preventable. Public perception does not regard hot weather as a common scenario for drowning deaths. The objective of our study was to test the association between hot weather and drowning risk.
Materials and Methods
We conducted a retrospective case-crossover analysis of all unintentional drowning deaths in Ontario, Canada from 1999 to 2009. Demographic data were obtained from the Office of the Chief Coroner. Weather data were obtained from Environment Canada. We used the pair-matched analytic approach for the case-crossover design to contrast the weather on the date of the drowning with the weather at the same location one week prior (control period).
We identified 1243 drowning deaths. The mean age was 40 years, 82% were male, and most events (71%) occurred in open water. The pair-matched analytic approach indicated that temperatures exceeding 30°C were associated with a 69% increase in the risk of outdoor drowning (OR = 1.69, 95% CI 1.23–2.25, p = 0.001). For indoor drowning, however, temperatures exceeding 30°C were not associated with a statistically significant increase in the risk of drowning (OR = 1.50, 95% CI 0.53–4.21, p = 0.442). Adult men were specifically prone to drown in hot weather (OR 1.67, 95% CI 1.19–2.34, p = 0.003) yet an apparent increase in risk extended to both genders and all age groups.
Contrary to popular belief, hot weather rather than cold stormy weather increases the risk of drowning. An awareness of this risk might encourage greater use of drowning prevention strategies known to save lives.
Don Redelmeier and Barry McLellan admonish the medical community for failure to act on the vast problem of road traffic crashes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Shortfalls in deceased organ donation lead to shortages of solid organs available for transplantation. We assessed rates of deceased organ donation and compared hospitals that had clinical services for transplant recipients (transplant hospitals) to those that did not (general hospitals).
We conducted a population-based cohort analysis involving patients who died from traumatic brain injury, subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracerebral hemorrhage or other catastrophic neurologic conditions in Ontario, Canada, between Apr. 1, 1994, and Mar. 31, 2011. We distinguished between acute care hospitals with and without transplant services. The primary outcome was actual organ donation determined through the physician database for organ procurement procedures.
Overall, 87 129 patients died from catastrophic neurologic conditions during the study period, of whom 1930 became actual donors. Our primary analysis excluded patients from small hospitals, reducing the total to 79 746 patients, of whom 1898 became actual donors. Patients who died in transplant hospitals had a distribution of demographic characteristics similar to that of patients who died in other large general hospitals. Transplant hospitals had an actual donor rate per 100 deaths that was about 4 times the donor rate at large general hospitals (5.0 v. 1.4, p < 0.001). The relative reduction in donations at general hospitals was accentuated among older patients, persisted among patients who were the most eligible candidates and amounted to about 121 fewer actual donors per year (adjusted odds ratio 0.58, 95% confidence interval 0.36–0.92). Hospital volumes were only weakly correlated with actual organ donation rates.
Optimizing organ donation requires greater attention to large general hospitals. These hospitals account for most of the potential donors and missed opportunities for deceased organ donation.
Human perception is fallible and may lead patients to be inaccurate when judging whether their symptoms are improving with treatment. This article provides a narrative review of studies in psychology that describe misconceptions related to a patient's comprehension, recall, evaluation and expression. The specific misconceptions include the power of suggestion (placebo effects), desire for peace-of-mind (cognitive dissonance reduction), inconsistent standards (loss aversion), a flawed sense of time (duration neglect), limited perception (measurement error), declining sensitivity (Weber's law), an eagerness to please (social desirability bias), and subtle affirmation (personal control). An awareness of specific pitfalls might help clinicians avoid some mistakes when providing follow-up and interpreting changes in patient symptoms.
symptomatic changes; patient follow-up; fallible judgment; medical error; human psychology; eliciting the history
Human error due to risky behaviour is a common and important contributor to acute injury related to poverty. We studied whether social benefit payments mitigate or exacerbate risky behaviours that lead to emergency visits for acute injury among low-income mothers with dependent children.
We analyzed total emergency department visits throughout Ontario to identify women between 15 and 55 years of age who were mothers of children younger than 18 years, who were living in the lowest socio-economic quintile and who presented with acute injury. We used universal health care databases to evaluate emergency department visits during specific days on which social benefit payments were made (child benefit distribution) relative to visits on control days over a 7-year interval (1 April 2003 to 31 March 2010).
A total of 153 377 emergency department visits met the inclusion criteria. We observed fewer emergencies per day on child benefit payment days than on control days (56.4 v. 60.1, p = 0.008). The difference was primarily explained by lower values among mothers age 35 years or younger (relative reduction 7.29%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.69% to 12.88%), those living in urban areas (relative reduction 7.07%, 95% CI 3.05% to 11.10%) and those treated at community hospitals (relative reduction 6.83%, 95% CI 2.46% to 11.19%). No significant differences were observed for the 7 days immediately before or the 7 days immediately after the child benefit payment.
Contrary to political commentary, we found that small reductions in relative poverty mitigated, rather than exacerbated, risky behaviours that contribute to acute injury among low-income mothers with dependent children.
Practice pattern variations are often attributed to physician decision-making with no accounting for patient preferences.
To test whether a mass media television broadcast unrelated to health was associated with changes in the rate and characteristics of visits for acute emergency care.
Time-series analysis of emergency department visits for any reason.
Population-based sample of all patients seeking emergency care in Ontario, Canada.
The broadcast day was defined as the Olympic men’s gold medal ice hockey game final. The control days were defined as the 6 Sundays before and after the broadcast day.
A total of 99 447 visits occurred over the 7 Sundays, of which 13 990 occurred on the broadcast day. Comparing the broadcast day with control days, we found no significant difference in the hourly rate of visits before the broadcast (544 vs 537, p = 0.41) or after the broadcast (647 vs 639, p = 0.55). In contrast, we observed a significant reduction in hourly rate of visits during the broadcast (647 vs 783, p < 0.001), equal to an absolute decrease of 409 patients, a relative decrease of 17% (95% confidence interval 13–21), or about 136 fewer patients per hour. The relative decrease during the broadcast was particularly large for adult men with low triage severity. The greatest reductions were for patients with abdominal, musculoskeletal or traumatic disorders.
Mass media television broadcasts can influence patient preferences and thereby lead to a decrease in emergency department visits.
Objective To determine from a societal perspective the risk of sudden cardiac death associated with running in an organised marathon compared with the risk of dying from a motor vehicle crash that might otherwise have taken place if the roads had not been closed.
Design Population based retrospective analysis with linked ecological comparisons of sudden death.
Setting Marathons with at least 1000 participants that had two decades of history and were on public roads in the United States, 1975-2004.
Main outcome measures Sudden death attributed to cardiac causes or to motor vehicle trauma.
Results The marathons provided results for 3 292 268 runners on 750 separate days encompassing about 14 million hours of exercise. There were 26 sudden cardiac deaths observed, equivalent to a rate of 0.8 per 100 000 participants (95% confidence interval 0.5 to 1.1). Because of road closure, an estimated 46 motor vehicle fatalities were prevented, equivalent to a relative risk reduction of 35% (95% confidence interval 17% to 49%). The net reduction in sudden death during marathons amounted to a ratio of about 1.8 crash deaths saved for each case of sudden cardiac death observed (95% confidence interval: 0.7 to 3.8). The net reduction in total deaths could not be explained by re-routing traffic to other regions or days and was consistent across different parts of the country, decades of the century, seasons of the year, days of the week, degree of competition, and course difficulty.
Conclusion Organised marathons are not associated with an increase in sudden deaths from a societal perspective, contrary to anecdotal impressions fostered by news media.