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Solar Eclipse Could Make for Busy ERs

By John Commins  
   August 18, 2017

Emergency physicians across the country – especially those practicing in rural areas in the direct path of the eclipse – expect to see an influx of people seeking emergency care.

Monday’s rare solar eclipse could create a temporary surge at emergency departments across the nation, the American College of Emergency Physicians warns.

"I suspect there will be an increase in patient traffic to ERs, especially in areas expecting a large influx of eclipse-watchers, such as Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina and Missouri," said Becky Parker, MD, president of ACEP.

"When a population surges, even temporarily, ER visits tends to rise. Anything out of the ordinary that shakes up a regular routine, like this eclipse, or daylight savings, can lead to more vehicle accidents,” Parker said. “Be mindful of that."  

ACEP asked emergency physicians across the country what they expect to experience on Monday in ERs. Those physicians practicing in rural areas – especially in the direct path of the eclipse – said they expect to see an influx of people seeking emergency care.

One emergency physician said that in east Idaho they are predicting that town and city populations will triple and put pressure on local hospitals to deal with the major increase in patients.

“Like many experts have said, emergency physicians remind the public that it's extremely important to protect your eyes during this eclipse," Parker said.

“If you choose to look at it, you must use proper eye protection for safe viewing from a reputable manufacturer. Staring at the sun – even for a second – can cause severe, permanent loss of vision. Remember, regular sunglasses do not offer enough protection," Parker said.

For more information on safety precautions for the eclipse consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders.

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