Subway Accidents Result in Amputations

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January 09, 2013
Edward Smith

Subway accidents can have devastating consequences for those involved. In fact, many people do not survive pedestrian versus subway collisions. While the subway system is designed with the intent to be safe, they are not immune to issues. When things do go wrong, people suffer from permanent severe injury and death.

One study conducted a retrospective review using information between 1989 and 2003. In the study, they found 41 patients who were involved in a subway accident and that had presented to Bellevue Hospital in New York City for treatment. The researchers collected pertinent information such as the patient’s age, gender, Injury Severity Score, the time of the accident, and the mechanism by which the accident happened.

In some cases, the victims suffered from psychiatric disorders or drank alcohol and were partially responsible for the accident. It was found that a prior psychiatric record occurred in 17 percent of patients. Another 39 percent of patients showed an elevation of blood alcohol level at the time of the incident. Most patients were completely stable despite their injuries, with a systolic blood pressure of about 114. The Glasgow Coma Scale was between 13 and 15. The worst-case injury scenario was often amputation below the knee. The majority of the patients needed at least three operations to recover from their injuries. In 8 patients, salvage of the limb was attempted but was not a successful venture. Amputation wound infection was found to occur in about 32 percent of the patients. The mortality rate for subway versus pedestrian cases was nearly 5 percent.

In another study in New York, researchers looked into the causes of traumatic amputations from subway accidents. The premise was that many of the patients suffered their injuries due to a failed suicide attempt. Researchers found that about 14 percent of patients were using illicit drugs before getting struck by the subway train. A total of 39 percent, on the other hand, had elevated alcohol levels when tested after the accident. In 27 of the 41 cases, the actual cause of the accident could clearly be determined. A total of 14 patients fell from the train platform onto the tracks, five were pushed by someone else onto the tracks, five attempted to take their own lives and three had seizures which resulted in a fall. Overall, injuries happened between 6 pm and midnight.

The study indicates that males were primarily involved in these incidents. The total number of males injured due to a fall onto the subway tracks was 79 percent. The average age was 37 years. Sadly, doctor’s records indicate that most men were fit in their mid-thirties before their incidents.

Surgery requires repair of the damaged blood vessels. Reattachment of severed limbs, on the other hand, was not achieved in any patient because of blunt trauma to the extremity. The patients ended up with a complete amputation. Complications often resulted from dirt, grease, and other toxic chemicals found on the subway tracks infecting the body. Nearly 32% of the patients sustained a wound infection, but all these infections resolved. The vast majority of these patients survived their injuries and were able to live everyday lives after learning skills to cope with their disabilities.