When Red Sox Win, Emergency Room Visits Dip

When the Red Sox do well, so apparently do the people of Boston. Or, at least, they stay put and watch no matter what.

In a newly released study, researchers tracked hourly visit rates at six Boston-area emergency departments during the each of the 2004 American League Championship Series (ALCS) and World Series games. They plotted these rates against television viewership as indicated by local Nielsen ratings.

During the lowest-rated games -- ALCS games 3 and 4, when the Red Sox were losing -- visits to the emergency room were about 15 percent above the volume expected.

Then the Red Sox won game 4. During game 5, Nielsen ratings surged and ER visits dipped about 5 percent below normal volume.

During the ALCS final game 7 and the World Series final game 4 -- the two most-watched games in which at least 55 percent of Boston-area homes tuned in -- ER visits dipped about 15 percent below the expected volume.

"The public health finding here is people use discretion in deciding when to show up in the emergency department," said study leader Kenneth Mandl, a physician at Children's Hospital Boston.

The statistics were all adjusting for time of day, day of week, and seasonal factors like flu that can cause spikes in visit rates.

The study covered only the times during which games were underway. Other studies have found that ER visits sometimes rise after sporting events, and that drunken driving incidents can also spike.

Research earlier this year found that sports fans in one city in Wales take a beating after the game, especially if the home team wins.