Top 7 reasons for Thanksgiving Day emergency-department visits

  • Knife injuries

    Knife injuries

    Even before carving the turkey, food preparation involves a lot of knife work and accounts for one of the top reasons patients visit the ED on Thanksgiving.

  • Food poisoning

    Food poisoning

    When cooking meat, there’s always a risk of bacterial infection. The CDC recommends that all turkeys be completed thawed and cooked at a minimum of 325 degrees Farenheit. It is suggested that stuffing be cooked outside of the turkey to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

  • Burns


    Between simmering the cranberry sauce and baking pumpkin pie, there is plenty of increased risk for burns. Encourage patients to keep an ABC-rated fire extinguisher close-by.

  • Overeating


    Overeating on Thanksgiving is no exaggeration. Heartburn and indigestion may not seem like reasons to rush to the ED, but these side effects may be mistaken for more serious symptoms and can lead to unnecessary hospital visits.

  • Alcohol consumption

    Alcohol consumption

    Thanksgiving is reported to be the ‘deadliest holiday’ of the year because of its increase in alcohol-related traffic accidents.

  • Overexertion


    Playing a friendly game of football with friends and family on Thanksgiving seems like a good way to fit in some physical activity on the holiday, but patients with heart problems or serious health issues may feel the pressure to overextend themselves, making overexertion a top reported reason patients visit the ED.

  • Domestic violence

    Domestic violence

    Family fights can lead to serious altercations and even land patients in the ED on Thanksgiving. Moderating alcohol consumption and limiting stress are ways to keep tempers under control.

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Thanksgiving means all the turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce you can eat, but it can also mean a cornucopia of reasons to visit the emergency department (ED). The Clinical Advisor scoured the depths of the internet to see what expert clinicians from across the country had to say about Turkey Day-related ED visits. Compiled by Brianne Aiken, Digital Content Editor

More Information

1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. “Turkey time.” 25 Nov 2014. Available here:

2. PR Newswire. “California hospital announces top five Thanksgiving injuries.” 23 Nov 2005. Available here:

3. Fox 29 Philadelphia. “Dr. Mike: Common Reasons for ER Visits on Thanksgiving.” 27 Jan 2013. Available here:

All electronic documents accessed Nov. 25, 2014.

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