Increased emergency department presentations for head trauma following media coverage of a fatal epidural hematoma


Previous reports have demonstrated the media’s influence on ED visits in situations such as dramatized acetaminophen overdose, media report of celebrity suicides, television public announcements for early stroke care and cardiac visits following President Clinton’s heart surgery. No previous study has demonstrated the influence of media-publicized trauma on ED visits. On 16 March 2009, the actress Natasha Richardson suffered a traumatic brain injury leading to her death on 18 March; these events were widely publicized by national news sources. The health departments of New York City, Boston, Duval County and Seattle monitor ED visits daily, and capture 95, 100, 100 and 95% of all ED visits, respectively. The data collected include basic demographic information, chief complaint and in some cases ICD-9 diagnosis codes.


This study describes an increase in head trauma-related visits to emergency departments (ED) in New York City, New York; Boston, Massachusetts; Duval County, Florida; and Seattle, Washington following the widespread media coverage of actress Natasha Richardson’s head injury and subsequent fatal epidural hematoma.

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Event/Publication Date: 
December, 2010

June 27, 2019

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