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Winter Weather Leads To Increase In Emergency Room Visits

By Suzanne Monaghan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Winter weather means emergency room doctors will be treating patients for various weather-related injuries.

The winter weather can be hazardous. Bitter cold, snow and ice mean an increase in car crashes, falls, back injuries and occasionally heart attack from shoveling.

Dr. Robert McNamara, Chairman for the Department of Emergency Medicine at Temple University Hospital, says the major injuries they see on icy days are due to falls.

"People get head injuries from falling back and hitting their head, wrist fractures," says McNamara. "Older patients, hip fractures are fairly common."

And for the elderly, a hip fracture can be deadly.

"My word of caution would be, don't go out unless you have to," McNamara says. "Especially if you're an older patient, it can be very dangerous. And if you have to go out, throw the salt and wait. Make sure the ice is cleared up before you walk."

And staying outside too long is dangerous.

"Frostbite is pretty uncommon, unless somebody is homeless or if they were outside and intoxicated and didn't get into a warm environment," McNamara says. "We see the occasional case of low body temperature, hypothermia."

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