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JAMA Revisited |

Some Medical Aspects of Vacation Time

JAMA. 2014;312(3):300. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.279622.
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The blessings of summertime have, in the past, been mixed with many tribulations for the physician. A decrease in the incidence of many contagious diseases was offset by a striking increase in accidents. In the United States the season used to begin with an orgy of pyrotechnics on the Fourth of July. In 1903 the fireworks connected with this holiday were responsible for 466 deaths and 3,983 serious injuries. During the short vacation periods that followed, people rushed out to get hasty exposures to sun and wind in crowded resorts, to swim in water polluted by human or industrial wastes, to be stung, bitten, kicked, or gored by unfamiliar animals, to encounter new vegetable enemies ranging from nettles and poison ivy to toadstools and green apples, to cope with poor refrigeration and unsanitary plumbing, to impale thumbs on fishhooks and be aimed at by careless hunters, and generally to crowd enough traumatic experiences into a few days to do for the rest of the year. For the physician this meant not just the treating of wounds, of poisonings, and of the gastroenteritis then called “summer complaint”; it meant also the tragedy of seeing men dead of gunshot wounds, boys drowned in boating accidents, and children blinded by firecrackers.…

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