STORIES
October 29, 2021

Nurses Reveal The Most Common Halloween Injuries, Stories From The ER

Nurses Reveal The Most Common Halloween Injuries, Stories From The ER

“For all of you who are dressing up as a nurse for Halloween this year, please come to the hospital. We are short-staffed and need your help.” The meme might have been started as a joke but it has now become viral truth. 

Halloween, like many of the holidays, can create many bizarre and memorable stories within the walls of the hospital. For some hospitals, it is one of the most requested days off since parents want to be able to spend the night with their young kids applying layers of face paint and making last-minute costume adjustments before braving the crowded streets. 

Halloween also happens to be one of the only holidays that nurses do not receive the typical time and a half holiday pay on which creates less incentive for staff to desire to work these shifts. But for the staff that does decide to show up, working in the afternoon and into the evening of Halloween has the potential to provide some memorable stories that can be told for entertainment purposes at dinner parties for years to come. 

Spooky (and Weird) Halloween ER Stories 

When you walk into the huddle in an Emergency Department on the night of Halloween, there is a palpable energy of excitement that only the rare breed of the adrenaline-crazed group of crazies in the ED yearn for. The looming questions of “what is going to walk through our doors tonight?” remain on the forefront of their minds throughout the shift. Will Bigfoot walk by with blood running down his leg? Can we expect to see a clown come in carrying a hatchet yelling obscene threats? Or maybe, will Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz come in with second-degree burns from an exploding pumpkin? 

There have been times in which the team has to rapidly intubate a 24-year-old overdose that is dressed head to toe as a kitty cat, and the doctor calls out “I visualized the whiskers, and the cords” while passing the tube. A grown man with a tutu on ripping the telemetry wires off and proceeding to hop on one foot down the hall shouting, “look at me, I’m free like a beautiful butterfly!” 

Although the possibilities of stories remain endless, the vast majority of cases the Emergency Departments care for on Halloween night are quite anti-climactic. In fact, staff that have been working in Emergency medicine for some time will admit that they fear working nights with a full moon far more than working on Halloween. 

Top 3 Halloween ER Visits 

Despite people that work outside the medical field lean in with intense anticipation when they ask about ER horror stories on Halloween, the statistics surrounding the holiday don’t compare to the hype. 

1. Lacerations: In fact, the most common injuries that Emergency Departments see during the week of Halloween are oftentimes the most simple to treat. Lacerations. Adults and children alike take creative liberties while carving their pumpkins that put their hands at risk of injury. So, it's almost comical that the highest proportion of Halloween-related injuries is a simple cut to the hand while trying to saw some holes in a squash. 

2. Pedestrian Car Accidents: On a darker note, the nearly 41 million children that roam the streets the night of October 31 provide ample opportunity for an increase in other injuries as well. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System showed that Halloween was the "deadliest day for child pedestrian accidents over a 20-year period." Safe Kids Worldwide reports that twice as many children are hit and killed by cars on Halloween than any other day of the year. Furthermore, the Ohio Department of Transportation found that "a pedestrian is more likely to be struck by a car in the last week of October than any other time of year." The large majority of these incidents occur between the hours of 4 pm and 10 pm due to the number of kids on the street and the decreased visibility of drivers as the sunsets.  

3. Alcohol: Some of the most interesting Emergency stories are always born out of the effects of our dear friend, alcohol. When Halloween falls on a Saturday, "drinking violations skyrocket by 4.5 times compared with the average increase when Halloween falls on any other day of the week." The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also says that 43 percent of deaths related to motor vehicle accidents on Halloween night in a four-year period were related to an alcohol-related incident. In 2013, the National data showed that "26 percent of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween involved a drunken driver." 

Tips 

Although it seems elementary, some of the most beneficial tips to keep you and your family safe during Halloween this year go back to the basics. 

  • When you go out Trick or Treating, you review basic pedestrian etiquette with your children to prevent them from potentially running out into the road. 
  • If you will be in an area with high traffic volume, consider adding reflective pieces into your child's costume to make them more visible to drivers. 
  • Make sure that their costumes do not involve any potentially dangerous props that could accidentally puncture, poke, scrape, or cut themselves or anyone else. 
  • If your child has any allergies, make sure they do not eat any food or candy that you haven't first checked and approved. 
  • Remain in neighborhoods and with people that you and your children feel safe around, and make sure they either have a way to contact you if they get lost, or establish a meeting time and place. 
  • When you are carving pumpkins, be extra cautious when you are making your slices and even consider wearing "cut resistant" gloves.  

And lastly, as with any holiday, one of the safest decisions you can make is to avoid driving late at night. Keep yourself out of other potentially intoxicated drivers' way, and by no means sit behind the wheel if you have had a few drinks. 

Enjoy all that Halloween has to offer, but please leave the spooky, scary stories to be told around the campfire. Not in the Emergency Department.

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