Bathroom Injuries a Little-Known Problem
Making bathrooms safer could prevent many slips and falls, CDC says
By Steven Reinberg
THURSDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- Some 234,000 U.S. teens and adults are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries sustained in bathrooms every year, a new report reveals.
The findings, published in the June 10 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, indicate that most of these injuries -- 80 percent -- are due to falls.
According to data from 2008, cuts, scrapes and bruises were the most common injuries, making up 29 percent of all bathroom injuries. In addition, the rates of fractures were highest among adults 85 and older, the CDC researchers found.
The majority of bathroom accidents involved women. The rate for women was 121.2 per 100,000 population, 72 percent higher than the rate for men at 70.4 per 100,000 population, the report noted.
Most injuries happened in or around the tub or shower (65.8 per 100,000), followed by injuries sustained on or near the toilet (22.5 per 100,000). Most tub injuries happened while getting out of the tub or shower, the researchers noted. A small number -- 5.5 percent -- of the injuries were the result of losing consciousness, they added.
The study also found that the number of injuries increased with age, especially for injuries occurring on or near the toilet. The rate of these injuries ranged from 4.1 per 100,000 among those 15 to 24 years old to 266.6 per 100,000 among people 85 and older.
Most people who went to the emergency room after a bathroom injury (84.9 percent) were treated and released; only 13.7 percent were admitted to the hospital, according to the report.
The CDC suggests that many of these injuries can be avoided through education about the problem and making bathrooms safer.
"Injuries might be reduced through environmental modifications, such as putting non-slip strips in the tub or shower and adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower to reduce falls, and installing grab bars next to the toilet for added support if needed," the report stated.
"Increasing awareness of potentially hazardous activities in the bathroom, combined with these simple environmental changes, could benefit all household residents by decreasing the risk for injury," the researchers added.
Dr. Kathy Schrank, chief of the division of emergency medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, calls the bathroom a "high-risk area" where "young people as well as old people can easily slip and fall."
The risks come from water on the floor and all the hard surfaces and protruding faucets and other hardware. "There aren't any real soft falls in a bathroom," she said.
Schrank also endorses the benefits of "hand rails rather than a towel bar that will pull off the wall when you grab it to stop a fall."
The new study findings were compiled using the National Electronic Surveillance System All Injury Program database.
For more on preventing injuries, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.SOURCE: Kathy Schrank, M.D., professor and chief, division of emergency medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; June 10, 2011, CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Related Articles
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