Mass gatherings like the 1996 Olympic Games require medical services
for large populations assembled under unusual circumstances.
To examine delivery of medical services and to provide data for planning
Observational cohort study, with review of medical records at Olympics
One large multipurpose clinic and 128 medical aid stations operating
at Olympics-sponsored sites in the vicinity of Atlanta, Ga.
A total of 10 715 patients, including 1804 athletes, 890 officials,
480 Olympic dignitaries, 3280 volunteers, 3482 spectators, and 779 others
who received medical care from a physician at an Olympic medical station.
Main Outcome Measures.—
Number of injuries and cases of heat-related illness among participant
categories, medical use rates among participants with official Games credentials,
and use rates per 10000 persons attending athletic competitions.
Injuries, accounting for 35% of all medical visits, were more common
among athletes (51.9% of their visits, P<.001)
than among other groups. Injuries accounted for 31.4% of all other groups
combined. Spectators and volunteers accounted for most (88.9%, P<.001) of the 1059 visits for heat-related illness. The rates for
number of medical encounters treated by a physician were highest for athletes
(16.2 per 100 persons, P<.001) and lowest for
volunteers (2.0 per 100). Overall physician treatment rate was 4.2 per 10000
in attendance (range, 1.6-30.1 per 10000). A total of 432 patients were transferred
Organizers used these data during the Games to monitor the health of
participants and to redirect medical and other resources to areas of increased
need. These data should be useful for planning medical services for future