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There are many innocuous tasks we do around the house that with one wrong turn could lead to a visit to the ER. We spoke with Dr. Lisa Goldberg, Emergency Medicine, Tucson Medical Center (TMC) Emergency Department.

The most common accidents around the house that the ER team sees at TMC are cuts and lacerations to the hands. Sometimes they result from bagel, avocado, and tomato debacles, but many come from DIY projects that require the use of a saw. These hand, finger and, fingernail lacerations generally need suture repair if the bleeding cannot be controlled.

Another series of household injuries are stovetop burns to the hands and face from hot oil splashing or hands burned on the toaster. Burns from equipment used on a DIY project is also common.

You Say Bagel, I Say Avocado

Bagel, avocado, avocado, bagel, let’s not cut our digits off!

Question: What do bagels and avocados have in common?

Answer: They will keep you in stitches!

Bagel Related Injuries (BRI’s) is a real thing. The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) reports that bagel slicing injuries are one of the most common visits to emergency rooms, particularly on the weekends. The avocado’s rise in popularity has created an increase in ER visits from people who stabbed their hands or fingers while trying to cut an avocado and remove the pit. These injuries can be very serious, especially if you slice into the nerves or tendons.

Invest in a bagel slicer or just have the bagelry slice and wrap them for you. As for the avocados, slice it slowly and steadily. Remember the Boy Scout lesson… a sharp knife is always safer than a dull knife, it’s easier to control.

What’s Age Got To Do With It?

According to Dr. Goldberg, aging has a lot to do with the types of incidents seen in the ER.


Dr. Goldberg says children’s injuries tend to be from falls off backyard playground equipment resulting in wrist fractures or head trauma. “Small children also ingest detergent, chemicals from under the counter, medications, and vitamins. Children also have a tendency to get into trouble with electricity — chewing wires, sticking items in electrical sockets — basically sticking things where they don’t belong.”

Young to middle-aged adults

In younger people, they see cooking cuts and burns. There is generally a peak in ladder fall injuries around the holidays when they are putting up and taking down holiday decorations. When the weather is prime for painting, planting, and landscaping, ER visits rise.

Older Adults

Falls around the house are common for older people. Small pets can get in between the feet, causing the person to trip. Falls off the toilet cause broken wrists, head injuries, lacerations, and bruises. Stepping on wet kitchen and bathroom floors is also a hazard. They see a lot of hip fractures and dislocations in the ER.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • More than one in four older adults fall every year; fewer than half tell their doctor
  • Three million older adults are treated in emergency departments each year for fall injuries
  • More than 800,000 patients are hospitalized each year because of injuries due to a fall, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture

“In the summer, contact burns increase with people who have fallen on hot asphalt or concrete and cannot get up,” said Dr. Goldberg.

Steps to ensure walkway safety

  • Remove clutter, small furniture, pet gear, electrical cords, throw rugs and anything else that might cause someone to trip.
  • Arrange or remove furniture so there is plenty of room for walking.
  • Put essential items where they are easy to reach.
  • Install grab bars inside and outside of your bathtub or shower and next to the toilet.
  • Put railings on both sides of the stairs, and make sure stairs and hallways have good lighting.
  • Keep outdoor areas well-lit and walkways smooth, free of puddles, ice, rocks, and other debris.
  • Use a cane or walker if necessary.

Household Chemicals

Ingesting cleaning products, antifreeze, windshield-washing fluid, gasoline, pool chemicals, and lighter fluid can make anyone very sick. The outcome can be fatal.

Check out Rosie’s Accidental Poisoning Prevention Plan.

When To Visit The ER

Dr. Goldberg suggests a visit to the ER is necessary for the following:

  • Bleeding cannot be controlled
  • Loss of consciousness
  • The injured person takes blood thinners
  • Accidental ingestion – ALWAYS visit the ER
  • Falls resulting in an inability to walk
  • Anytime you are worried about the injury
  • Injury to the eyes or hands
  • Severe pain
  • Obvious deformity
  • Loss of sensation
  • Difficulty breathing

It’s the new year! Just because your health insurance deductible starts all over again doesn’t mean you should tempt fate.


Photo Credits:

  • Shutterstock


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