Personal Injury: Shovel With Caution and Avoid Emergency Department
January 29, 2011
Snow shoveling is a significant contributor to the volume of patients in Emergency Departments at this time of year, according to a study. Researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that EDs treated an average of 11,500 snow shoveling-related injuries and medical emergencies per year between 1990 and 2006.
According to the research, which appears in the January issue of the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, the most common diagnoses were soft tissue injuries 55%, lacerations 16% and fractures 7%. Injuries happened most frequently to the lower back 34%, arms and hands 16% and head 15%. The most frequent causes of injuries were acute musculoskeletal exertion 54%, slips or falls 20% and getting struck by a snow shovel 15%.
Cardiac-related injuries accounted for only 7% of all cases, but were the most serious, comprising more than half of the hospitalizations and 100% of the 1,647 fatalities associated with shoveling snow. Patients ages 55 and older were 4.25 times more likely than younger patients to experience cardiac-related symptoms while shoveling snow. Among patients in that age group, men were twice as likely as women to exhibit cardiac-related symptoms.
More than 1,750 children and adolescents were injured each year while shoveling snow. Patients in that group were almost 15 times more likely than those in older age groups to suffer injuries from being struck by a snow shovel. Two-thirds of their injuries were head injuries.The authors said their study is the first comprehensive analysis of snow shoveling-related injuries and medical emergencies in EDs using a nationally representative sample. Data came from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which is operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.