Injuries in outdoor climbing: a retrospective single-centre cohort study at a level 1 emergency department in Switzerland.

Krieger, Chantal Selina; Vesa, Doris-Viviana; Ziegenhorn, Stephan; Exadaktylos, Aristomenis Konstantinos; Klukowska-Rötzler, Jolanta; Brodmann Maeder, Monika (2022). Injuries in outdoor climbing: a retrospective single-centre cohort study at a level 1 emergency department in Switzerland. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine, 8(1), e001281. BMJ Publishing Group 10.1136/bmjsem-2021-001281

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Outdoor rock climbing has become popular in recent years. However, few data have been published on climbing accidents in Switzerland, even though the Swiss Alps are a major climbing resort.To analyse data on accidents related to outdoor climbing treated in the Emergency Department (ED) of University Hospital Bern, Switzerland.


A retrospective database search for accidents related to outdoor climbing was conducted in the clinical reporting system of the ED of University Hospital Bern for the period April 2012-December 2018.


78 patients were treated after an accident related to outdoor climbing, which accounted for 1 per 3571 (0.028%) of all ED visits during this period. Mean age was 35.8±10.4 years. 76% of patients were male. Falls were the most common mechanism of injury (64%), followed by rock or ice falling on the climber (21%). Injuries affected multiple body regions (38%) or only the lower limbs (22%). Most injuries were fractures (68%). Mean ISS was 7.5 (1-38), and grade 3 UIAA MedCom injuries were most common (45%). 11 cases of polytrauma occurred and one fatality. 44 patients needed inpatient admission. Mean duration of inpatient stay was 7 days. Mean costs per patient were 12 283 CHF.


Accidents related to outdoor climbing accounted for a small number of patients seen in the University ED Bern. Further research should be on a nationwide basis, with collection of specific climbing data like use of a helmet and experience of climbing to inform injury prevention strategies. This should shed further light on this topic, as would a prospective study using the International Alpine Trauma Register.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Intensive Care, Emergency Medicine and Anaesthesiology (DINA) > University Emergency Center

UniBE Contributor:

Ziegenhorn, Stephan, Exadaktylos, Aristomenis, Klukowska-Rötzler, Jolanta, Brodmann Maeder, Monika


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




BMJ Publishing Group




Pubmed Import

Date Deposited:

26 Apr 2022 11:33

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 16:19

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Injuries Rock climbing Sporting injuries




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