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Lawn Mower Accidents That Can Put You In the ER

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Lawn Mower Accidents That Can Put You In the ER

Apr 22, 2016

Warm weather is coming and it’s time to get your yard ready for summer–but be careful using a lawn mower. Dr. Troy Madsen, emergency physician, joins us to describe common lawn mower injuries he sees in the ER, and the type of injuries he sees the most might just surprise you.

Episode Transcript

Interviewer: What are some of the common lawnmower injuries that an ER doc might see? We'll find out next on The Scope.

Announcer: Health tips, medical news, research and more for a happier healthier life. From University of Utah Health Sciences, this is The Scope.

Interviewer: Dr. Troy Madsen's an emergency room physician at University of Utah Hospital. It's that time of year again when you get out the lawnmower and start mowing. What are some of the common lawnmower injuries that you see? I mean, the first thing I think of when I think of lawnmower injury is cutting something, like you get your foot under there, you get your fingers under there. Do you see a lot of that?

Dr. Madsen: Not a lot, but we do see it.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dr. Madsen: Either from people for whatever reason they, like you said, may get a foot under there. Who knows exactly how that happens sometimes. Maybe they got their hand under there and the lawnmower is on.

Interviewer: Yeah, some of those lawnmowers can continue to run, you can take the bag off, empty it. Maybe there's a little . . . and you think you can clean out a little bit of . . . I mean, I don't know. You would think most people wouldn't do that and most people don't, it sounds like.

Dr. Madsen: Most people don't, but occasionally, it does happen. And that's kind of the obvious thing. You think, "Okay. Lawnmower. The blade's spinning." You don't reach in there, you don't reach into the shoot and try and clean grass out while it's running. Just don't do it. It might catch a finger or maybe you're moving and you get your foot under it.

Interviewer: What you're seeing are those things that we don't expect. Dr. Madsen: Yes.

Interviewer: I'm thinking, "Like what?"

Dr. Madsen: Yes. Kind of the interesting things we see are, okay, I'm a conscientious lawnmower, I tell myself do not run the mower when I'm cleaning grass out from the shoot. So I turn the lawnmower off and then I reach into the shoot and I've got all this grass, this wet grass stuck in there. I'm pulling it out. Well, that wet grass, you've got a blade in there with a spring on it, it may have really tightened that spring up. It may have a lot of tension, I pull that grass out and then that tension releases and the blade gets my finger. And I have seen that happen. We see it with snow blowers and we see it with lawnmowers.

Interviewer: So the smart thing to do: turn it over and use a stick?

Dr. Madsen: Use a stick. And I wouldn't even turn it over. If it's stuck in the shoot, get a stick in there, just pull that stuff out and just try and clean it out as well as you can before trying to put anything in there that's going to cause any tension release if there's tension in that blade.

Interviewer: All right. What are some of the other things you see in the ER when it comes to lawnmower injuries?

Dr. Madsen: Well, the other thing would be that occasionally happens is you're mowing a lawn and you hit a rock or something in the grass and then it just flicks it. Occasionally, we will see people who have been hit in the leg by something like that. You do have the other lawnmower, the weed whackers or whatever you call them, that have the little kind of cable that spins around that obviously puts you at higher risk for things getting flicked into your eyes. We do see things in people's eyes either in the eye or hitting the eye and causing a scratch or an abrasion on the eye. That's the other thing you obviously have to watch for as well.

Interviewer: All right. Some good tips for some things to look out for when you're mowing your lawn. Any final thoughts? When you mow you lawn, eye protection?

Dr. Madsen: Yes, absolutely, eye protection.

Interviewer: Cargo shorts?

Dr. Madsen: Long pants and wear good shoes. Don't go out there in your flip-flops.

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