Entries in Emergency Room (15)


Push for ‘Ouchless’ Emergency Rooms for Kids

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Parents, your next trip to the hospital emergency room may be a little less painful, thanks to a new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The report authors reviewed nearly 250 medical studies to provide guidance on how to reduce pain and stress for babies and kids in the emergency room.

“We’ve gotten a lot better at managing kids’ pain,” said author Dr. Joel Fein, an emergency room doctor at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  “We need to do everything we can.”

Fein had three good reasons to improve ER visits for kids: his three sons.

“I want my child to have the best experience possible without being fearful of the medical system,” he said.

The report, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, outlines simple ways to reduce pain and stress in emergency rooms, including the use of pain pills and numbing creams in the waiting room.  It also recommends distracting kids with bubbles and sugar pacifiers during painful tests.

Letting a family member stick around can also have a calming effect, according to the report.

“Although there is no evidence that family presence decreases pain, their presence for procedures can decrease child distress,” Fein and colleagues wrote in their report.

While pain management in adults has come a long way, Fein said pain control in children -- particularly babies -- lags far behind.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


More Kids in ER from Swallowing Batteries, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The number of children being taken to emergency departments with battery ingestions is on the rise, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

In total, more than 65,000 visits involving kids who had ingested batteries occurred over the past 20 years.  In the overwhelming majority, button batteries were the culprits.

These tiny batteries are becoming more and more ubiquitous as more devices powered by small lithium batteries -- the shiny, button-sized variety -- make their way into our homes.

So what makes these batteries so dangerous?  Part of the problem is that lithium batteries are especially appealing to the child's eye, as they can mimic candies and can easily fit into small mouths, ears or noses.  Occasionally, if a child swallows one of these batteries, it can pass through his or her body without incident.  But this isn't always the case.

Dr. Ian Jacobs, associate professor of ear, nose and throat at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, explains that if a lithium battery stays lodged in the esophagus for more than two hours, the battery can erode through the soft tissue of the esophagus and cause a hole.  This can be fatal.

Children who survive still face serious health issues.  They may experience permanent paralysis of the vocal cords that may forever rob them of their speech.  These batteries can also be harmful if lodged in other places.  They can burn through the cartilage in the nose or into the inner ear, causing hearing loss or difficulty breathing.

Dr. Toby Litovitz, executive and medical director of the National Capital Poison Center in Washington, D.C., has done extensive research on the major and fatal outcomes associated with button battery ingestions and maintains a national database on these and other incidents.  She found in a separate study that from 1985 to 2009 there was almost a seven-fold increase in the percentage of button battery ingestions with major or fatal outcomes.

So what can parents do to prevent these potentially fatal ingestions?  The first step is to keep the batteries out of children's reach.

Lithium batteries can be found in laptops, iPads, remote car keys, calculators, cameras, bathroom scales, digital thermometers, talking books, video games and even musical greeting cards.

Litovitz recommended that parents "be vigilant and look at every product at home to see if it has a battery compartment that can be opened by the child and [if so, make sure it is] secured with heavy tape.  If not, it needs to be treated like a medication -- up high, out of reach and locked up."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Stair Injuries Are Falling, But Still Land 93,000 Kids in ER

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Although stair-related injuries among young children are on the decline, they still prompt more than 93,000 emergency room visits per year, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

"The good news is that in 10 years these injuries have dropped by 11 percent," said study author Dr. Gary Smith, director of Nationwide Children's Hospital's Center for Injury Research and Policy.  "But the wake-up call is that we're still seeing a child less than 5-years-old injured every six minutes.  To me that means we have a lot more work to do."

Smith and colleagues used the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System to track stair-related ER visits between 1999 and 2008.

"We need to know how these injuries are happening to know how to prevent them," said Smith, whose research on baby walkers helped fuel policy changes linked to a 76 percent decrease in related injuries.  "These are kids who have good parents.  We just need to design the environment so parents aren't expected to do the impossible."

While some children were injured in strollers, walkers or other vehicles such as a laundry basket, 87 percent tumbled on their own.

"Stair gates should be standard in homes where young children live or visit," said Smith.  "These kids have the mobility and curiosity, but they don't have the sense of danger."

Dr. Estevan Garcia, director of pediatric emergency medicine at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City, said it's important to have gates at the top and bottom of every staircase.

"A lot of people forget that if a kid can get up, they can come down," he said.

In another sobering statistic, one-quarter of children younger than 12 months old were injured while being carried by a parent or caretaker.  And they were three times more likely to be hospitalized with serious injuries.

"As a parent, I can relate," said Garcia, whose 1-year-old broke his leg on the stairs while he was being carried.  "Here I was thinking it was the safest way, and that's when he got hurt."

Broken arms and legs, while common, were vastly outnumbered by head and neck injuries, which accounted for 76 percent of ER visits.

"The biggest concern is bleeding or bruising in the brain," said Garcia, describing damage that can't be fixed with a plaster cast.  "We worry about long-term consequences of head injuries."

While gates and easy-to-grip railings can help prevent accidents, Garcia said it's just as important to teach kids how to tackle stairs safely from an early age.

"Show them how to scoot down on their bottoms," he said.  "You don't want them to be afraid, but you want them to understand the risks."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


ER Docs See Patients with Unimaginable Items in Unlikely Places

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- One winter night, Dr. Melissa Barton was the attending physician in the emergency department of the Detroit Medical Center.  Making her rounds, she picked up a chart for a new patient and read the woman's chief complaint: "eye in the vagina."

The patient told Barton she had been expecting a fight with some neighbors outside her house.  Wearing only a sweatshirt and spandex pants, she needed somewhere to stow her prosthetic eye for safe-keeping.

"Those things are pretty expensive and hard to replace," Barton said.  "So that's where it went, along with her driver's license."

Unfortunately, it got stuck.

Dr. Gary Vilke, a professor of clinical emergency medicine at the University of California San Diego Medical Center, saw a patient who had four Barbie doll heads stuck in his rectum.

"When you looked at his x-ray, they were looking at you, like a totem pole," Vilke said.

Ask a handful of emergency medicine specialists about cases like these, and you'll get a cascade of stories about patients with strange objects ingested or inserted in unlikely places. Vegetables, light bulbs, tools, even cellphones and reading glasses have wound up illuminated on x-rays or described on medical charts in U.S. emergency departments.

For many unlucky patients, an inserted or ingested foreign object is the result of a one-in-a-million accident or a single bout of bad judgment or curiosity.  While there is little data detailing just how many patients wind up in U.S. emergency departments with objects stuck in their orifices, doctors say they see these patients more often than you might think.

"There's usually a good story every week or two, everything from the unique to the bizarre to the gross," said Vilke, who has practiced emergency medicine for 20 years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Flying Squirrel Invades New Jersey Emergency Room

Jr - Nicholas/Getty Images(RAHWAY, N.J.) -- A flying squirrel caused a stir in a New Jersey hospital when it got trapped inside the emergency department.

At about 10 p.m. on Tuesday, the squirrel got inside the emergency department of the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Rahway, according to a report in the Newark-based Star-Ledger. The animal scuttled and swooped around the emergency room, trying to evade the firefighters who were called in to catch it.

About the size of a chipmunk, flying squirrels have large flaps of skin between their arms and body that they use to glide through the air, rather than flying like a bird or a bat.

“It would climb up on a light and would jump off and glide” to the floor over and over, fire department spokesman Capt. Ted Padavano told the Star-Ledger.

Eventually, the firefighters were able to corral the mammal into a 15-by-15-foot trauma room. After about 10 minutes, they managed to cover the squirrel with a blanket and released it into a wooded area near the hospital.

A hospital spokeswoman said there was no damage to the emergency room but did not have an explanation for the hospital’s sudden influx of flying squirrels.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Extreme Heat: Emergency Rooms Report Increase in Patients

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The extreme heat system scorching the nation was on the move eastward toward major cities Thursday as it impacts airports, tourist spots and emergency rooms.

At New York's Statue of Liberty, officials closed the statue's crown area as temperatures inside reached 110 degrees Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, emergency rooms say they are "stacked up" with patients due to the heat that has scorched the Southwest and Midwest.

"We're up in overall cases by 10 percent every day this week," the Detroit Medical Center reported to ABC News Thursday. "The chief of emergency medicine estimated that 15 percent to 20 percent are heat exhaustion or heat-related cases."

The center said that one man with diabetes was found unconscious on the floor of his non-air-conditioned home. "He's still not out of the woods," the center said.

There are 141 million people in more than two dozen states under heat advisories.

As many as 22 people have died because of the extreme heat and humidity, the National Weather Service reported Wednesday -- and there is no immediate end to the scorching temperatures in sight.

Heat indexes from 105 to 115 degrees were expected from the Midwest to the East Coast Thursday.

Across the Midwest, people were being treated in hospitals for illnesses related to the heat. In Wichita, Kan., hospitals saw 25 heat-related illnesses, while in Des Moines, Iowa, they saw 16.

According to hospital officials, a person can die within half an hour once they get heat exhaustion. Officials warned people to watch for signs of heat exhaustion. In these conditions, the body, even at rest, can lose a quart of fluid an hour.

The National Weather Service has safety tips for adults looking to keep cool:

-- Slow down. Try to reduce or cancel any strenuous activities, or reschedule them for the coolest part of the day.

-- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect sunlight and heat.

-- Eat lighter foods. Meat and other proteins increase metabolic heat production and could cause even more water loss.

-- Drink plenty of water, but avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks.

-- Spend more time in air-conditioned places. If you don't have an air-conditioner in your home, go to a library, store or other location for part of the day to stay cool.

-- Avoid getting too much sun. Sunburn can reduce your body's ability to release heat.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Boozed-Up Boys Visit the ER Twice as Much on July 4th Weekend

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The holiday weekend is almost here -- a time to celebrate the nation's birthday with parades, barbecues, fireworks and yes, booze.
A new study shows that alcohol-related visits to the emergency room more than doubles among underaged boys on the Fourth of July weekend compared to the rest of the month.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that on the July 4th holiday weekend in 2009, an average of 942 people under the age of 21 visited the ER with alcohol-related issues. The majority of them, 622, were males.
Less than one-third of the visits, 304, were by underaged females. Their trips to the hospital ER do not spike, but remain steady in July.
To discourage underage drinking,  the organization says parents should be very clear about their disapproval of the behavior. They advise parents to discuss alcohol with their children early and often.
For help with a plan of action, parents can go to
Getting the message across to their children now could prevent a holiday celebration from turning into a tragedy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bathroom Injuries Cause Thousands of Visits to ER

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that approximately 234,000 people ages 15 and older were treated in an American emergency department for non-fatal bathroom-related injuries in 2008. That averages to about 640 people per day.

"What was interesting in this study was that even though the injury rates were lower in younger people, people of all ages fell in the shower or tub," said Judy Stevens, lead author of the study and a national epidemiological expert on older adult falls and fall prevention. "This supports the recommendation of having grab bars installed inside and outside the tub and shower."

Experts said the bathroom can pose dangers because of its wet, hard surfaces; how a person is often rushing to get to the bathroom; and the heat, which can dilate peripheral veins and lower blood pressure, causing dizziness in some people.

More than 80 percent of bathroom-related injuries were caused by slips and falls, mostly while getting in and out of the tub or shower, and about 30 percent of those injuries included cuts, scrapes and bruises. Injury rates were more common in women and older patients. Younger people were more likely to be hurt in or around the tub, while older people sustained more injuries on or near the toilet.

Many retirees cannot afford bathroom renovations to install grab bars and other bathroom safety features, noted Dr. Carl Ramsay, chairman of the department of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

"So they live with the same wet floors; slippery, high-walled bathtubs-showers; and no handrails -- despite having a tendency to have an increasingly unsteady gait, relatively weaker muscles and bones," said Ramsay. "In addition, they are frequently on medications that control their heart rate, thus blunting their bodies' natural responses to a change of positions from sitting to standing."

Ramsay said the medication can lead to lightheadedness and sometimes loss of consciousness after using the toilet.

But Dr. Jeffrey Suchard, professor of clinical emergency medicine at University of California, Irvine Medical Center, noted that the study does not compare bathroom-related injuries with those occurring in other locations or rooms, so one cannot conclude that the bathroom is particularly dangerous. While it could be, Suchard said there's no reason to fear the bathroom.

"[The study's] estimate of the number of injuries represents only about 1 percent of all non-fatal injuries that occur," said Suchard. "To me, that is actually a surprisingly low percentage of all non-fatal injuries, considering how much time people spend in bathrooms compared to other locations, the frequent wet bathroom surfaces making falls more likely, and equipment that might injure you if you came into contact with it."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


More Women 50 and Older Landing in ERs for Drug-Related Suicide Attempts

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Evidence of the troubling increase in prescription drug abuse has reached hospital emergency rooms, which report increasing medication-related suicide attempts among women 50 and older.

From 2005 to 2009, suicide attempts in which drugs played some role rose from 11,235 to 16,757 among women ages 50 and up, a federal survey found. The increase, driven in part by the last of the Baby Boomers entering their sixth decade, provides a new example of the toll wrought by the nation's prescription painkiller epidemic. In 2009, 16 million Americans age 12 and up had taken a prescription pain reliever, tranquilizer, stimulant or sedative for non-medical reasons in the previous year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The trends involving women and suicide appeared in a Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report dated May 12, 2011, but were released Thursday to coincide with a meeting of the public-private Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. The report, prepared by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, wasn't limited to suicide attempts involving deliberate overdoses; its authors counted any suicide attempt in which drugs were involved, such as a woman slashing her wrists while smoking marijuana.

Among women of all ages, emergency hospital visits for attempted suicide involving alcohol or illicit drug use remained "relatively stable" from 2005 to 2009, but increased for particular drugs such as pain relievers or anti-anxiety drugs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


More Older Women Ending Up in ERs Due to Suicide Attempts

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- More and more women aged 50 and older are ending up in the ER after attempting to commit suicide with drugs, according to a new national report released Wednesday.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, found that between 2005 and 2009, emergency room visits for drug-related suicide attempts by women in this age group jumped 49 percent -- from 11,235 visits in 2005 to 16,757 in 2009.

Despite the increase in these types of ER visits for women aged 50 and older, the report found that the number of visits by women of all ages remained fairly stable throughout the same time period.  However, SAMHSA did find a steep rise in visits involving specific prescription drugs, like pain killers, among all women.

The report said there was a 67 percent increase and a 210 percent increase in ER visits for suicide attempts involving two narcotic pain relievers, hydrocodone and oxycodone, respectively.

Futhermore, cases involving drugs used to treat anxiety and insomnia went up 56 percent throughout the four documented years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio