Feb 23, 2024 - Health

An unexpected finding suggests full moons may actually be tough on hospitals

A hand with a latex glove holding the moon

llustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The idea that a full moon drives strange behavior is so deeply ingrained in our culture that some superstitious hospitals even bulk up on staffing when one is coming.

Why it matters: New data from hospital safety company Canopy suggests, well, they might be onto something.

The big picture: Canopy stumbled into a surprising finding when analyzing how hospital workers were using the company's panic buttons, which allow staff to quickly call for help in a potentially violent or disruptive situation.

  • The company, going off an impromptu suggestion from one of its data crunchers, found panic button use increased 9% during full moons compared with all other days going back two years.
  • Canopy CEO Shan Sinha told Axios he never expected to find a lunar connection. "I was like: That's ridiculous. There's no way," he said.
  • And he's still not really sure what to make of it. "It was very strange," he said. "Maybe there really is something to everybody's anecdotal experiences."

Between the lines: This was part of the company's more serious look into security incidents in hospitals as health care workers are facing more violent attacks on the job.

  • 200,000 workers across 40 health care systems are equipped with Canopy panic buttons.
  • Canopy found an 8% increase in security incidents during COVID surges.
  • Company officials were also surprised to find security incidents were 20% higher on weekdays compared with weekends, while there were 12% fewer incidents on holidays.
  • Overall rates of incidents are still elevated since the pandemic, Sinha said.

Our thought bubble: While studies have thoroughly debunked the full moon theory, it was still pretty fascinating to see that some studies have found at least some association between a full moon and health care demand.

Don't forget: The next full moon — called the Snow Moon — starts Saturday.

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