When a full moon and a lunar eclipse collide with Friday the 13th, do more accidents really happen?

Health and medicine explained.
March 20 1998 3:30 AM

E.R. and the Triple Hex

When a full moon and a lunar eclipse collide with Friday the 13th, do more accidents really happen?

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The evidence satisfied me that neither the full moon nor the inauspicious date threatened my night. 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.

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On the occasion of Friday the 13th, Magnum Photos looks at things that make us uneasy and give us the chills.

Atul Gawande, M.D., writes a regular column on science and policy for Slate.