Hospital visits for slips, falls increased during last week’s winter storm, San Antonio doctors say

Doctors recommend seeing specialist for follow-up care after a fall

SAN ANTONIO – Alejandro Estrada felt like a kid enjoying the snow early last week when he took his family out to play and slide down tubes on a slope. But that excitement quickly took a scary turn.

“I think I might have stepped on a rock or something because I slipped, fell back and broke my elbow and dislocated my elbow,” Estrada said.

He visited an urgent care clinic and followed up with Dr. Sean Shahrestani at TSAOG Orthopaedics this week. He’s now on the mend.

Shahrestani says it’s been a busy week for his office as many victims of falls follow up for care.

“It’s always a good idea to go see a specialist. Go see an orthopedic surgeon. Go see a sports medicine physician,” Shahrestani said.

He says injuries can get worse if you don’t properly care for them.

“If you’re having continued pain that’s not getting better, I’d definitely advise you to seek medical treatment,” Shahrestani said.

University Hospital reported a significant spike in weather-related falls last week. They average about seven fall-related visits per day. Last week, the average was about 17 per day, according to Dr. Ralph Riviello, professor and chair of emergency medicine at UT Health San Antonio and University Hospital.

Out of 1,870 patients who visited the University Hospital ER between Feb. 13 and Feb. 21, more than 140 were weather-related fall visits.

Riviello said there’s likely even more classified under different types of injuries when they checked in.

“We saw a fair number of patients with broken wrists, broken shoulders, dislocated shoulders, broken ankles. We had a few people with broken hips, as well as -- we’ve had a handful of patients with concussions or more serious head injuries, like bleeding inside of the brain,” Riviello said. The adults and elderly are most at risk for falls.

Baptist Health System reports 335 falls and slips visits between Feb. 15 and Feb. 19 at all its San Antonio locations and another 87 at Resolute Health Hospital in New Braunfels.

Baptist Health System urges caution for the elderly and released the following statement relating to falls and fall safety:

“At Baptist Health System from Feb. 15 through Feb. 19, healthcare teams reported treating more than 420 patients in our hospitals in San Antonio and New Braunfels for injuries related to slips or falls during the ice and snow storms that affected Texas that week.

Baptist Health System urges the community to exercise extreme caution when walking outdoors on wet, icy or uneven surfaces, which can prove very dangerous. The elderly and those who have osteoporosis are at higher risk for bone and hip fractures if they fall. If you or someone you know suffered from a fall and are experiencing any swelling, discoloration or pain in the affected area, call your physician immediately for an evaluation and imaging. Our ERs are safe for treatment, so always call 911 in an emergency. Check in on family, neighbors and the elderly who may have been alone last week to ensure they are healthy and did not fall.”

Doctors say if over-the-counter medication is not easing your pain, you should seek medical attention or a follow-up visit with a specialist.

About the Authors

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

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