I came across this article the other day by Janine Dorsey of the Tampa Tribune; it’s called “Don’t Laugh; It Could Happen To You: Common Reasons For Emergency Room Visits Are Common and Serious”
If that title alone doesn’t intrigue you, then go ahead and skip this post. But I found the article to be both interesting and amusing, so I’ll share some highlights:
Federal regulators review a sample of those visits for signs a product might need to be recalled. Those records provide a view into the dramatic injuries of Americans who seem able to hurt themselves with almost any product made.
One woman fell from a galloping horse while texting.
Another woman’s bangs caught fire as she peered into a toaster.
More than 818 emergency room trips in the past four years involved “chicken” – dead and alive.
Boxes of cereal (cut fingers), cans of pork and beans (falling from a cupboard onto one’s head), wood chippers (yes, people stick their hands in) and trombones. Hundreds of people suffer piercings gone wrong, thousands fall out of their mobile homes or have objects intractably lodged in orifices.
“Every day, people come in and you just think, ‘You gotta be kidding me,'” said Brian Peckler, an ER doctor for 15 years, now at Tampa General. “I mean, what makes a guy think using a fish hook to clean out ear wax is a good idea?”
Everyone knows by now that talking on the phone is distracting, and now that cell phones have become even cheaper than land lines in many cases, people are finding a variety of ways to hurt themselves while using the phone:
A 19-year-old male, on the phone while lifting weights, drops a barbell on himself.
A 21-year-old male, riding his bike and texting, crashes, scrapes his face.
A 37-year-old male cutting chicken while on the phone slices his hand.
A 25-year-old male, texting, walks into a telephone pole’s guide wire and tells emergency room workers “he might have gotten zapped.”
Hundreds of injuries are blamed on the phone in its capacity as a weapon: They’re used as missiles or as a bludgeon to beat people on the head.
And then there is something that’s become obvious to me ever since I had a son almost two years ago – men are more apt to hurt themselves than women. There are more women than men in this country, yet men account for 56% of the ER visits, according to federal data.
Men suffer injury in 80 percent of pressure washer cases. Nine in 10 injuries involving “mobile home” and “alcohol” were suffered by men. And 96 percent of “nail gun” cases were men.
“Guys are definitely dumber than women in this regard,” Peckler said.
One 37-year-old man tried cutting branches with a circular saw – on top of a running wood chipper. The saw cut off several fingers, which fell into the chipper.
Having a brother appears dangerous as well. Regardless of who was injured, ER records implicate the brother twice as often as the sister.
And my personal favorite part of the article:
“Demonstrate” appears in no small number of cases where less-than-skilled people tried to show off martial arts moves, wedding dances, pogo-stick skills and cheerleader routines.
Though many people consider themselves expert enough to demonstrate something, Robert Cano at University Community Hospital sees scores of cases that prove otherwise.
“Almost nothing good comes after someone says ‘Hey, watch this!'” Cano said.
Note the 52-year-old mother, demonstrating judo to her daughter by flipping her husband. Torn left knee.
Other cases: The 25-year-old man demonstrating to children how to climb on monkey bars when his shoulder “snapped.” Or the 16-year-old demonstrating a softball technique who stepped on a rake that smacked her in the forehead.
Or the 55-year-old woman showing her grandson how to use a pogo stick – she fell and smacked her head.
And finally, the ER doc’s favorite story:
Peckler at Tampa General marvels at accidents that should have been fatal but weren’t.
His favorite case: the man who was supposed to be watching his 3-year-old, but decided to change his car’s oil in the driveway. Seeking a safe holding area, Dad put the child in the car and crawled underneath to drain the oil.
The child knocked the gear shift from park to neutral, and the car’s tire rolled over the man’s chest.
He suffered no major injuries, Peckler said. But how could anyone survive?
Peckler shrugged and said, “God’s strong love for fools.”
Indeed. Just be careful next time you hear someone say, “Watch this.” Maybe you should get the phone ready to dial 9-1-1. Then again, after reading how inclined some folks are to hurt themselves while using the phone, perhaps a better response to “Watch this.” would be “No thanks.”