Impact of Ramadan on Emergency Department Patients Flow; a Cross-Sectional Study in UAE
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Introduction: Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is, to Muslims, the holiest month of the year. During this month, young, able-bodied Muslims are commanded to abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk. Objective: The objective of the study is to analyze emergency department (ED) patients flow during the holy month of Ramadan and compare it to non-Ramadan days. We hypothesized that Ramadan would affect ED attendance by altering peak hours, and expected a dip in attendance around evening time (after sunset). Methods: In Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, a retrospective study was conducted at a tertiary hospital (2014-2016). The data was strategically separated and patient presence was analyzed year-wise, weekday basis and based on the hourly presence of the patients in the ED of the chosen hospital. Results: A total of 45,116 ED’s patient visits were analyzed over the mentioned study period. There was a difference in the total volume of Ramadan and non-Ramadan patient between the years 2014-2016. In all of the years, the highest percentage of visits was during the non-Ramadan days and this had a small fluctuation from 53% in 2014 to 52% in 2016 (p=0.001). It was observed from the collected data that 53% of the patients were present in the hospital during the fasting hours whereas 47% were present during the non-fasting hours (p<0.001). Conclusion: We were successfully able to derive a pattern from the data of 3 years in relation to the patient flow in the ED of the hospital. Moreover, we observed the difference in the patient arrival pattern between the Ramadan and non-Ramadan days in the hospital along with the predominant categorization of patient chief complaints. Our study identified a unique pattern of ED hourly visits during Ramadan.