Bathroom accidents account for many ER visits

By Tom Nordlie • Published: September 7th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

We won’t say your bathroom is out to get you.

But it is a dangerous place.

According to a recent study, bathroom-related injuries account for one percent of hospital emergency room visits by U.S. adults and teenagers.

That’s almost a quarter-million cases per year.

Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed those estimates by analyzing data from selected hospitals in 2008.

It’s easy to see why people get hurt in bathrooms.

For one thing, they’re present in virtually every American home.

Most bathrooms contain a plethora of dense, hard surfaces that become slippery when wet.

Add to that a few metal and porcelain fixtures, limited floor space and water being splashed around frequently.

It’s a recipe for slipping and falling. And that’s exactly what happens.

Eighty percent of bathroom-related E.R. visits were caused by falls. The most common injuries were bruises and scrapes, and the head and neck were most often affected.

Fortunately, most of the patients were treated and released.

The injury rate was about 70 percent higher for women than for men. But it wasn’t clear if women were hurt more often, or just more willing to seek medical treatment.

As you might expect, older people were at greater risk.

Among those ages 85 and up, there were more than twenty-six-hundred cases for every 1 million people.

In contrast, the rate for those ages 15 to 24 was about FORTY cases for every 1 million people.

The authors suggested a simple step that could cut the risk of falling.

Install grab bars near showers, tubs and toilets. The bars give people something to hold onto when their footing isn’t good.

And that seems like a great way to get a “handle” on this problem.