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Sleep and Rhythms Projects

Changes in Accident & Emergency Visits and Return Visits in Relation to the Enforcement of Daylight Saving Time and Photoperiod

Ferrazzi E., Romualdi C., Ocello M., Frighetto G., Turco M.,Vigolo S., Fabris F., Angeli P.,Vettore G., Costa R., Montagnese S.

Journal of Biological Rhythms

Daylight saving time (DST) is a source of circadian disruption impinging on millions of people every year. Our aim was to assess modifications, if any, in the number, type, and outcome of Accident & Emergency (A&E) visits/return visits over the DST months. The study included 366,527 visits and 84,380 return visits to the A&E of Padova hospital (Northern Italy) over 3 periods between the years 2007 and 2016: period 1 (2 weeks prior to DST to 19 weeks after), period 2 (2 weeks prior to the return to “winter time” to 4 weeks after), and period 3 (5 consecutive non-DST weeks). For each A&E visit/return visit, information was obtained on triage severity code, main medical complaint, and outcome. Data were aggregated by day, cumulated over the years, and analyzed by generalized Poisson models. Generalized additive models for Poisson data were then used to include photoperiod as an additional covariate. An increase in A&E visits and return visits (mostly white codes, resulting in discharges) was observed a few weeks after the enforcement of DST and was significant over most weeks of period 1 (increase of ≈30 [2.8%] visits and ≈25 [10%] return visits per week per year). After the return to winter time, a decrease in absolute number of return visits was observed (mostly white codes, resulting in discharges), which was significant at weeks 3 and 4 of period 2 (decrease of ≅25 [10%] return visits per week per year). When photoperiod was taken into account, changes in A&E visits (and related white codes/discharges) were no longer significant, while changes in return visits (and related white codes/discharges) were still significant. In conclusion, changes in A&E visits/return visits were observed in relation to both DST and photoperiod, which are worthy of further study and could lead to modifications in A&E organization/staffing.

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