Newswise – When is a medical emergency really an emergency? Not during key Boston Red Sox games, according to the Children’s Hospital in Boston. Using Nielsen ratings, they found that the bigger the game, the quieter the emergency room.

The researchers tracked hourly visit rates at six Boston-area emergency rooms during the each of the 2004 American League Championship Series and World Series games. They plotted these rates against television viewership as indicated by local Nielsen ratings. During the lowest-rated games, when the Sox were losing and facing probable elimination, visits to the emergency room were about 15% higher than expected.

Then the Red Sox won game 4. During game 5, Nielsen ratings surged and ER visits dipped about 5% below normal. During the highest-rated games, 55-60% of Boston-area households were tuned in to the game and emergency-department visits dipped about 15% below the expected volume.

It’s clear that Red Sox fever can eliminate other health problems.

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