Finger Amputations in Children

Approximately 300,000 injuries involving doors need treatment at an emergency room each year in the U.S. Most of the victims are children of preschool age and under, and most injuries from doors result in some kind of amputation. These door-related injuries are completely preventable and there are some inexpensive devices that could be put on doors to prevent these amputation injuries. There are door closing devices that prevent a door from slamming and prevent injuries from the open side of the door. Most serious injuries, however, result from the door’s the hinge side, where the closing pressure from the door can exceed 80,000 pounds per square inch.

Some companies have created hinge protectors that eliminate the possibility of hinge accidents. A casing made of plastic is placed around the sides of the door that blocks contact with the hinge face. There are door stoppers that can also help prevent unexpected door closures. You can also paint or tape near the hinge and door knob side of the door to remind kids to stay away from that part of the wall.

In addition to doors, kids get amputations as a result of contact with exercise bikes and other exercise equipment. About 300 children per year have amputations because of exercise equipment contact. Most kids were under age 5; these things could be prevented by never letting a child play around exercise equipment.

Between 2000 and 2005, about 50 children in the U.S. lost fingers to paper shredders. Many happened when kids mimicked adults when the adults were not around. Parents should never have a child around a paper shredding devices or “learn” how to use them.
These amputations can be significantly debilitating for the rest of the child’s life. Usually no one is at fault and it is a true accident. The only thing that can be done is careful observation of the child’s fingers around the door and the devices mentioned above to keep a child’s fingers away from either end of the door. Facilities working with children should consider having protective devices around doors.

One study looked at national estimates of pediatric door amputations in the U.S. The data were provided by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which looks at injuries people get from different sources. They looked at patients who had been seen at U.S. emergency rooms for door-related injuries dating from 1999 to 2008. About 1.4 million U.S. children under the age of 17 were treated for door injuries. This amounts to one injury every four minutes. Injuries have increased over the years. Most of the injuries were boys at 55 percent of total cases. A total of 41.6 percent of victims were under the age of 4 years.

The mechanism of injury was being pinched in the door 55 percent of the time. An impact to the door accounted for 42 percent of injuries. Most of the injuries were amputations at 32 percent with lacerations accounting for 25 percent. There has been an increasing frequency of injuries which happened with a glass door.

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