The correlation between full moon and admission volume for penetrating injuries at a major trauma centre in South Africa

Keywords: emergency medicine, trauma, epidemiologie, lunar cycle, full moon

Abstract

Background: The possible effect of full moon on admission volume of trauma centres is a well-mentioned phenomenon that has been perpetuated worldwide. We aimed to review the correlation between full moon and admission volume and to interrogate any possible relationship on admission for penetrating trauma.

Methods: A retrospective study from 2012 to 2018 at Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Trauma Service (PMTS), South Africa.

Results: A total of 8 722 patients were admitted. Eighty-three per cent (7 242/8 722) were male and the mean age was 29 years. The total number of days during the study period was 1 953, 66 of which were ‘full moon’ (FM) days and 1 887 were ‘non-full moon’ (NFM) days. There was no significant difference between gender or age distribution. The mean number of admissions per day on FM days compared with NFM days was not significant (4.1 vs 4.5, p = 0.583). A total of 3 332 patients with penetrating trauma were admitted. This constituted 42% (113/271) of admission on FM days and 38% (3 219) on NFM days, which is not statistically significant (p = 0.229). Subgroup analysis did not demonstrate any significant difference between the number of stab wounds – 28% (77/113) vs 25% (2 124/3 219) – or gunshot wounds – 13% (16/113) vs 12% (990/3 219) – between FM and NFM days.

Conclusion: The correlation between full moon and trauma admission is unfound in our setting. The perpetuating notion that ‘it must be full moon tonight’ is likely to be an urban myth with no scientific evidence for such a claim.

Author Biographies

V Kong, University of the Witwatersrand

Department of Surgery, University of the Witwatersrand and Department of Surgery, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

A Keizer, Alrijne Hospital

Department of Surgery, Alrijne Hospital, The Netherlands

M M Donovan, Stanford University School of Medicine

Department of Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, United States of America

R D Weale, North West Deanery

Department of Surgery, North West Deanery, United Kingdom

N Rajaretnam, Waikato Hospital

Department of Surgery, Waikato Hospital, New Zealand

J L Bruce, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Department of Surgery, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

A Elsabagh, Flinders Medical Centre

Department of Surgery, Flinders Medical Centre, Australia

D L Clarke, University of the Witwatersrand

Department of Surgery, University of the Witwatersrand and Department of Surgery, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Published
2021-09-10
How to Cite
Kong, V., Keizer, A., Donovan, M., Weale, R., Rajaretnam, N., Bruce, J., Elsabagh, A., & Clarke, D. (2021). The correlation between full moon and admission volume for penetrating injuries at a major trauma centre in South Africa. South African Journal of Surgery, 59(3), 94-97. Retrieved from http://sajs.redbricklibrary.com/index.php/sajs/article/view/3528
Section
Trauma