Jul 8, 2016

Interview Transcript

Interviewer: A lot of people are always working for the weekends, but really you should be watching out for the weekends. We'll examine that next on The Scope.

Announcer: This is, From the Frontlines with emergency room physician Dr. Troy Madsen, on The Scope.

Interviewer: Dr. Troy Madsen is an emergency room physician at University of Utah Health Care. It turns out that on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, those are some of the most deadliest days of the week. I wanted to find out from Dr. Madsen, what are causing people to die on the weekends? You would think that it would be nice and low, because everybody would be happy and just relaxing. Right? But no.

Dr. Madsen: You'd think so. You'd think people are enjoying the weekend, just getting out, having a nice time with the family. But that's not the case.

Interviewer: No?

Dr. Madsen: Yeah. This is based on a study from the Centers for Disease Control, where they looked at, "What is the deadliest day of the week?" Being an ER doctor, when I saw the title of this article, without even seeing anything, I knew it was Saturdays.

Interviewer: Really, just based on your own personal experience for what you see?

Dr. Madsen: Exactly. I said, "It's Saturdays," and sure enough it's Saturdays.

Interviewer: Wow. Okay. So why is that? What are we doing on the weekends that's so bad for us?

Dr. Madsen: The really interesting thing, I was a little surprised by this, but again being in the ER I do see this quite often, is car crashes. You would think this would be something during the week. People are commuting. Maybe there's bad weather. They're having accidents then.

Interviewer: There'd be more people on the road during the week, I would think.

Dr. Madsen: You would think so, but that's not the case. The most number of deaths from car accidents actually happens on Saturdays.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dr. Madsen: It's probably because people are not driving as well as they should, or maybe there's some alcohol involved.

Interviewer: Oh.

Dr. Madsen: It may be a number of factors, or people are out of their routine. It's not just that routine commute to work or the route they're familiar with. Whatever it is, or maybe they're getting away on like a weekend getaway, something like that, car crashes peak on Saturdays.

Interviewer: Okay. More car crashes on Saturday than any other day of the week.

Dr. Madsen: Exactly.

Interviewer: So watch it if you're behind the wheel.

Dr. Madsen: Watch it if you're behind the wheel. The other thing we see a lot of on Saturdays is firearms. This one does make sense. You figure people probably are not out shooting guns maybe during the week, and maybe on the weekend they are. This probably depends where you live. I don't know what the firearm deaths, what percentage of that are accidental firearm deaths versus intentional, where people are shooting other people.

I'm sure it's a combination of those things. But certainly, you figure you start to involve alcohol. People are out of their routine. They're on weekends. Maybe they're getting worked up, different disputes, things that are happening that lead to firearm deaths.

Interviewer: All right. So those are big on Saturdays and Sundays, as well?

Dr. Madsen: They are.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dr. Madsen: They certainly are big. Again, I can say from experience, when I think of Saturdays in the ER, especially the warmer months, I think of trauma and that's exactly what we're seeing here. Sometimes there are days where you're just in that trauma bay where they bring the traumas, and it just seems like you never leave there because it's one thing after another. Interestingly, they also did find that drug overdoses peak on Saturdays. It makes sense, because people are probably out partying.

Interviewer: Sure.

Dr. Madsen: Maybe they're getting some drugs involved, with alcohol, and then that can cause issues as well. They also found that poisonous plants and animals, and there were not a lot of these sort of cases of deaths from poisonous plants and animals, but these do peak on Saturdays also. It makes sense. People are out in the wilderness, whatever they might be doing.

Interviewer: Doing some hiking. Yeah, exactly.

Dr. Madsen: Yeah.

Interviewer: All right.

Dr. Madsen: But it's also worth noting, they saw that heart attacks, regardless of the day of the week, are the number one killer. The number of heart attacks, it really sort of dwarfs these other causes. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the U.S. They interestingly don't peak on Saturdays. They are pretty high on Fridays and Saturdays, but they peak on Mondays.

Interviewer: So just when you think you're safe out of the weekend, you've got Monday to deal with and a potential . . .

Dr. Madsen: Exactly.

Interviewer: The biggest day for heart attacks.

Dr. Madsen: Yeah. You got through the weekend. You didn't get bitten by any poisonous animals or anything like that. You get back to work, that stress causes a heart attack, and Mondays are the number one day for heart attack deaths.

Interviewer: All right. So beware if you're out having fun. Watch out for the weekend. Is there anything that we can do from a doctor's perspective that could keep us a little safer on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays?

Dr. Madsen: Sure. I mean, it's a matter of prevention. If you're driving a car, wear a seat belt. Be careful with alcohol. Certainly don't be driving if you're under the influence. Firearms are always an issue. If you are using firearms, practice the standard safety practices with those things. I think just being aware. Being aware these things do happen, and as they say, don't do drugs. What else can I say? Don't do drugs, and avoid the ER.

Announcer: TheScopeRadio.com is University of Utah Health Sciences Radio. If you like what you heard, be sure to get our latest content by following us on Facebook. Just click on the Facebook icon at TheScopeRadio.com.

For Patients

Sign Up For Weekly Health Updates

Get weekly emails of the latest health information from The Scope