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Christmas has many hazards - and some role models, says BMJ

Thursday December 17th 2020

Christmas is not cost-effective and can be dangerous – but people should decide for themselves whether it is worth celebrating, according to a light-hearted analysis pre-dating the current COVID crisis.

However, Father Christmas is a role model for doctors – although he would be advised to avoid the sherry, according to another report in the traditionally quirky seasonal edition of The BMJ.

Researchers found a number of hazards associated with Christmas, including fingertip amputation.

The finger injury happened through posting Christmas cards through spring-loaded letter boxes while in earlier times – 1876 – a man developed arsenic poisoning from painting Christmas cards.

Children have swallowed Christmas lights, confetti stars and Christmas tree shaped decorations while injuries from ladder falls during house decorations are common, according to Professor Robin Ferner, of Birmingham University.

Professor Ferner also mentions gastroenteritis and salmonella infection together with the risks of mid-winter holidays such as skiing. In Australia mid-summer holidays trigger fatal industries from activities such as jet-skiing, Professor Ferner says.

The report does not mention the risk of COVID infection but concludes: “Most of our sources are anecdotal, and we did not find strong evidence of widespread adverse effects. So, we will leave you to decide whether the benefits of Christmas outweigh its harms.”

Studying Father Christmas, Peter Brennan, a maxillofacial surgeon in Portsmouth, and radiologist Rachel Oeppen, commend his use of checklists and advance planning and his ability to avoid “never events” such as the delivery of the wrong stocking.

His communication skills seem limited at “ho ho ho” but he appears to be an effective team leader, the pair say. They question, however, how he manages to function safely on the many glasses of sherry and spirits left for him.

BMJ 17 December 2020

[abstract]

Tags: A&E | General Health | UK News

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