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Emergency Physicians: Avoid Spending Thanksgiving in the ER

Simple Steps Can Keep You and Your Family Safe, Healthy and Happy This Holiday

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, good food and good times. The nation's emergency physicians want it to stay that way and not become a memory that involves a visit to the nearest ER.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100616/DC22034LOGO-d)

"We are prepared to treat you at any moment should you need it," said Andrew Sama, MD, FACEP, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "But we hope that by following some common sense precautions, you can avoid spending time with us and instead spend more time enjoying time with loved ones."

Food Preparation Safety 

The risk of bacterial contamination can be high with any raw meat.  Wash your hands thoroughly when handling uncooked meat and keep it separate from other foods. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the oven temperature should be no lower than 325 degrees and the turkey should be completely thawed before cooking.  A food thermometer must register a safe minimum temperature of 165 degrees inside the turkey.  

It's best to cook stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole, but if you choose to stuff a turkey, make sure the stuffing also reaches a temperature of 165 degrees (CDC) to ensure there is no bacterial contamination. Refrigerate all leftovers.

Individuals with food allergies who have not prepared their own meals at home should ask about food preparation and ingredients to prevent unnecessary exposure and an allergic reaction.

One of the more common injuries that emergency physicians treat during the Thanksgiving holiday involves knives – specifically carving knives that can cut fingers and hands. Be careful when slicing food, and more specifically, do not rush. More accidents occur when carving and cutting too quickly. Allow someone experienced in handling sharp knives to do the carving.

Burns are another common injury during Thanksgiving. The kitchen can be a dangerous place, especially around the oven and grill. Again, don't rush when cooking dinner, have a plan of execution and leave yourself plenty of time to get it done. 

A special note of caution needs to be made for anyone who decides to deep fry a turkey. This can be very dangerous and cause serious burns and fires, especially if you have never attempted this before. Make sure to research the proper way to "deep fry" carefully and use extreme caution if deciding to deep fry a turkey. 

Eating Safely

The key is to approach your Thanksgiving meal with moderation. Food is usually abundant on Thanksgiving, however for some, it can be too much, consumed too quickly. For those with medical conditions like congestive heart failure, kidney disease, high blood pressure, etc., excess of salt can be dangerous. Monitor your sodium intake and make sure you take any necessary prescription medications, as you would any other day. Consult your doctor if necessary. Eat your food slowly and when satisfied take a break and allow your body to process it. Eating too quickly can cause heartburn, indigestion and may create chest pain, which generally requires assessment. 

Injury Prevention

Before or after the meal, it's common for many to head outside and play sports (football, basketball, etc.).  Weekend warriors - beware! Many injuries occur in those not used to routine exercise. If you must play in a traditional "Thanksgiving game" we recommend having fun and going easy and not overdoing it. Emergency physicians warn that it's important to pace yourself after a big meal and for those who are not used to regular physical activity we recommend reconsidering. We see many sprains, strains and fractures in those who try to do too much, too quickly. We also treat patients develop shortness of breath and chest pain from overextension.

ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies. 

Dr. Darria Gillespie, an emergency physician in Boston is available for media interviews. Please call Mike Baldyga to set it up at 202-728-0610, ext. 3005 or mbaldyga@acep.org. You can also find her on YouTube at http://tinyurl.com/cu92jgl

SOURCE American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)

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