Hospitals Brace For “Blackout Wednesday” Patients

Chicago hospitals are gearing up for what's become known as "Blackout Wednesday," one of the biggest party nights of the year on Thanksgiving Eve that inevitably leads to a busy night in the emergency room.

"The night before Thanksgiving, there's lots of drinking and driving accidents," said Dr. Paul Casey at Rush University Medical Center.

Across town at Loyola University Medical Center, toxicologist and emergency room physician Christina Hansch is also preparing for an influx of patients, mostly of them young.

"Young adults are home, it's a very long weekend, no exams ... days like today, we see more adults with alcohol intoxication," Hansch said.

But Hansch says alcohol isn't the only culprit.

"Synthetic marijuana, bath salts, especially mixed with alcohol can have significant effects," Hansch said.

Factor in the freezing temperatures and physical injuries enter the equation, with inebriated party-goers slipping on sidewalks and scantily-clad people putting themselves at risk for hypothermia.

Doctors say there's a plan already in place for staffing at area hospitals, and they'll be ready.

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Particular concerning to doctors and law enforcement are the bars and clubs that offer specials to draw in customers on a night that's already been historically busy.

The CDC defines binge drinking for women as four or more drinks in a sitting. For men it’s five or more.

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