From the Frontlines: SeptemberSep 25, 2013
Believe it or not, injuries related to home improvement project mishaps are a regular occurence in the emergency room. Dr. Troy Madsen explains why — and offers tips for how to stay healthy while fixing the roof.
Scot: What's happening in the ER with Dr. Troy Madsen and from the front lines, that's next on The Scope.
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Scot: As an emergency room doctor, Dr. Troy Madsen, you have your finger on the front line of our health concerns. Likely you're going to see it before anybody else, and emergency room visits tend to come along with the seasons from what I understand. We're in fall. What are you seeing?
Dr. Troy Madsen: That's right. It's funny because if you do this long enough you just find there are certain patterns to certain times of years. I've always associated fall with falls. We see a lot of people who fall because they're doing home projects, they're getting up on their roof, up on ladders trying to fix things and get that air conditioner prepped for the winter. That's something I'm seeing now.
Scot: Yeah, I got up on my roof the other day, and I didn't know if I was going to get down. It's a lot steeper and scarier when you're up there.
Dr. Troy Madsen: It is. It's steep.
Scot: Getting back on the ladder I had to call my wife to hold the ladder because I was afraid it was going to tip.
Dr. Troy Madsen: Yeah, we've had a lot of rain lately. We tend to get a lot more rain in the fall. That makes things slick. People are falling off things, so I've seen several cases of falls either from rooftops or ladders, fixing things, trying to get the gutter cleaned out, which people are going to be doing more as the leaves fall. We're definitely seeing falls right now.
Scot: All right, what else is going on?
Dr. Troy Madsen: Something I always see this time of year, just haven't seen a lot of it yet, is table saw injuries. We see a lot of fingers cut off in table saws.
Scot: It only takes a second, too, of not paying attention.
Dr. Troy Madsen: It does, and I see it in really experienced people. These are people who tell me they've worked with table saws for years and years who are just getting their finger caught in there. The board just jumps and catches their finger. I haven't seen a lot yet. I expect that I will start to see as people start to do some more home projects over the next month or two.
Scot: Is that usually what happens, the board jumps, or is it a lack of concentration? What's the usual cause?
Dr. Troy Madsen: When I've talked to people and I say, "How did this happen?" usually they tell me they're pushing the board through and they're trying to keep their hands back. They know you don't want to get close to that blade. They saw they were paying attention and they hit a knot, and the board bucked. It kicked up and then their hand slid forward. That's usually what happens. You just see some nasty injuries with that.
Scot: All right, from the front lines what else is going on in fall?
Dr. Troy Madsen: One of the other big things we see this time of year is eye injuries. People get a lot of dust in their eye, metal, wood. They're out working again trying to get stuff ready for winter. We get these winds kicking up. We've had a lot of high winds lately, so you get a lot of people that will come in. They'll have corneal abrasions, which are scratches on their eye which are extremely painful. They'll have sort of thing. Maybe we need to get our specialist to see them, but we do see that this time of year and are seeing a little bit of that right now.
Scot: All right, protect your eyes. What about the flu?
Dr. Troy Madsen: Flu season has not started yet. I've had some people who have come in who have said, "I think I have the flu." I can say I have not been aware yet of any cases where we've actually seen that it has been the flu, but this is a great time to get your flu shot. We don't know how flu season's going to be. It's always hard to predict year to year how bad it's going to be. As everyone knows, we've had some bad flu seasons a few years ago with the H1N1 swine flu, so get your flu shot. Make sure you're ready for it.
Scot: All right, and what's on the horizon as we leave fall and go into winter other than flu?
Dr. Troy Madsen: As we get more into winter we're kind of in this lull right now. Summer is our big trauma season, and then winter is winter sports trauma. We start to see a lot of trauma from winter sports. People come in straight from the resorts either with head injuries or leg injuries, knee injuries. We'll see a lot of that stuff obviously as the ski resorts start to open up.
Scot: All right, we'll keep an eye on that as we head on into the latter part of the year. Thank you very much Dr. Troy Madsen with from the front lines on The Scope. We're your daily dose of science, conversation and medicine. This is The Scope, University of Utah Health Sciences Radio.