Objectives: To determine whether weather conditions affect emergency department (ED) attendance and admissions from the ED.
Design and setting: A retrospective observational study in a large metropolitan ED.
Main outcome measures: ED attendance (total and via ambulance) and admissions to hospital from ED, as a function of weather variables.
Results: On warm, dry, sunny and good weather days there were significantly more ED attendances in total than there were on cool, rainy, dull and bad weather days, respectively (P < or = 0.001). There were significant correlations between ED attendance and temperature (r = 0.36, P < 0.001), rainfall (r = - 0.20, P < 0.001) and hours of sunshine (r = 0.17, P = 0.001). Attendance via ambulance was not affected by weather variables. Admissions from the ED were positively correlated with temperature (r = 0.15, P < 0.01) and negatively correlated with rainfall (r = - 0.12, P = 0.02).
Conclusions: As there is a clear relationship between weather conditions and ED attendance, incorporating meteorological forecasting into emergency medicine training may improve ED scheduling. To improve the morale of ED staff coping with an onslaught of patients on good weather days, the ED environment should simulate sunny weather, with swimming pools, sun lamps, palm trees and Beach Boys music.