The influence of heatwave temperatures on fracture patient presentation to hospital


      • There is currently very limited data in the present literature, which assesses the effects of heatwave temperatures on fracture patient presentation to hospital.
      • Our study design allowed for a robust assessment of the effects of heatwave temperatures on fracture patient presentation to hospital, in our hospital catchment population and in our Major Trauma Network population.
      • Temperature and humidity data were included in our study, allowing both to be assessed, in terms of their influence on fracture patient presentation to hospital.
      • Our findings showed that heatwave temperatures resulted in a significantly increased number of orthopaedic polytrauma patients presenting to a Major Trauma Centre.



      As global warming continues at its current rate, heatwaves are likely to become an increasing phenomenon. At present, knowledge of the influence of heatwave temperatures on fracture patient presentation to hospital remains limited.


      This was a retrospective descriptive epidemiology study performed through hospital database review, linked to meteorological data. Emergency Department and Fracture Patient Presentation Data was obtained for the adult (16+) South Glasgow population (population count – 525,839) and the adult (16+) population covered by the West of Scotland Major Trauma Centre (population count – 2,218,326) from May 2021 to August 2021. This was combined with maximum temperature data, along with humidity and humidex data. Humidex is a measure which quantifies the temperature experienced by the patient, through a combined score incorporating both maximum temperature and humidity


      During the study period, there was one temperature heatwave (19th to 25th July), and four humidex heatwaves (27th June to 3rd July, 15th to 17th July, 19th to 27th July, 22nd to 26th August). During the temperature heatwave, there was a significantly higher incidence of orthopaedic polytrauma patient presentation (IRR 2.37: p < 0.027), as well as ED patient presentation (IRR 1.07: p < 0.036). The humidex heatwaves were associated with a significantly higher incidence of orthopaedic polytrauma patient presentation (IRR 2.31: p < 0.002) and overall fracture patient presentation (IRR 1.18: p < 0.002).
      Positive correlations were found between orthopaedic polytrauma patient presentation vs temperature (R=0.217: p < 0.016), ED patient presentation vs temperature (R=0.427: p < 0.001), fracture patient presentation vs temperature (R=0.394: p < 0.001), and distal radius fracture patient presentation vs temperature (R=0.246: p < 0.006).


      This study finds that heatwave temperatures result in a significantly increased number of orthopaedic polytrauma patients presenting to a Major Trauma Centre. Given the significant resources these patients require for care, Major Trauma Centres should be aware of such findings, and consider staff and resources profiles in response.


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