updated 9/27/2005 6:59:17 AM ET 2005-09-27T10:59:17

When the Red Sox heat up, the ERs cool down.

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According to a study published Monday in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, traffic in Boston-area emergency rooms significantly slowed during last year’s Red Sox championship games.

“I have no idea where the patients go, but they don’t come into the emergency room,” said Dr. Alasdair Conn, the ER chief at Massachusetts General Hospital, which was included in the study.

Ben Reis and John Brownstein, researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston, compared Nielsen television ratings with hospital traffic at a half dozen hospitals in metropolitan Boston.

They discovered that during the championship games, fans in three of every five households were watching. At the same time, emergency room visits dropped by about 15 percent when compared with trends for ER visits on fall evenings.

Doctors and the study’s authors suspect that when the Red Sox are in the playoffs, patients who can defer an ER visit will do so.

“The heart attacks, the strokes, they will come no matter what’s going on,” Conn said. “The patient with pneumonia, the patient with an asthma attack will say, ’Maybe I can ride this out at home.”’

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