Healthcare News & Insights

Patients continue to find creative ways to injure themselves

The recent back-to-back winter storms in the Northeast came with a surprise: A spike in finger amputations.

The blame lies mostly with snow-blowing equipment and the people who (absentmindedly) run them.

Case in point: A hand surgeon on-call last week at Lehigh Valley Hospital near Allentown, Pennsylvania had to perform six finger amputations in one afternoon. All told, the doctor spent the bulk of his shift tending to mangled fingers and broken hands.

Most of the injuries happen when the blowers get clogged and people reach in to free them — not realizing the internal blades are still moving.

The American Society for Surgery of the Hand went so far as to publish information on the causes and contributing factors in snowblower injuries to help educate patients. According to the ASSH, the typical patient with this kind of injury is a 44-year-old man. Preventative measures to avoid injury include:

  • waiting five seconds after turning off the machine before attempting to fix it
  • using a broomstick to unclog the machine, and
  • not drinking alcohol when using a snowblower.

We’ll let you decide which piece of advice is most important.

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