Most people often participate in superstitions, even without realizing it (ever knocked on wood?). As today is Friday the 13th, I'm wondering how many of you have that ominous belief that today will be filled with bad luck. After researching the actual effects of this day in the number of accidents that occur compared to other Fridays, the results surprised me. Most surprising was that there were very few studies on the topic and the two that I did find seemed to contradict each other. The logical side of me wants to believe that if there's any connection between Friday the 13th and bad luck, it's due to an increased level of anxiety or fear that changes behaviors rather than an unexplainable black cloud of misfortune. I found this article written by Atul Gawande about a non-believing surgical resident doing a rotation in the E.R. on a particular Friday the 13th (after being warned that it would be a busy night and dismissing the warnings as ridiculous). Read the entire article here.
"...Nonetheless, I came on duty that evening to find the resident from whom I was taking over swamped with patients. He stayed late to help me catch up. Just after he left, a new trauma victim rolled in--a 28-year-old who had been knocked unconscious in a high-speed head-on collision. The police and paramedics said he had been stalking his girlfriend with gun in hand. He fled in his car when cops arrived and led them on a chase that ended in the massive crash. The rest of the night was no better. I was, as we say, "slammed." It's full moon Friday the 13th, a nurse explained. I was about to say that studies showed no connection. But my pager went off before I could start. I had a new patient coming in."
I asked Gabe to weigh in on this from his residency days in the E.R. and he didn't have any recollection of it being any busier on the day in question. He did, however, inform me that there isn't an Operating Room #13 in the hospital (even though there is a #12 and #14). How do you feel about Friday the 13th? Do you believe in superstitions?