Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I am continually amazed by the amount of force the human body can withstand, the significant injuries that it can sustain and still survive, and heal.  I am also amazed by the little things that seem insignificant that can cost a person their life, but I will leave that post for another day.

Last night in the ED, I saw a patient who was the unrestrained passenger in a motor vehicle accident (MVA).  The exact circumstances surrounding the accident were not clear by the time I left, but the gist of it was that the car hit a tree or pole head on.  This passenger, a teenage girl who was getting ready to start college in two weeks, luckily did not seem to sustain any life threatening injuries, despite the fact that she was not wearing her seat belt.  She did, however, sustain a very severe jaw fracture, multiple facial fractures, a skull base fracture, and a wrist fracture.  When we first evaluated her, she had obvious facial bone deformities, and CT scan showed that her lower jaw had been fractured on both sides, and displaced laterally and posteriorly... basically her jaw was being shoved into her mouth and neck.  Best and we could tell, she took the majority of the force of the crash with her chin, resulting in these fractures.

In all likelihood, most of her injuries would have been prevented had she been wearing her seat belt.  Now, this is not meant to blame her for the injuries by any means.  Most of us have driven somewhere and forgotten to put out seat belt on, or thought we were just driving a short distance and it wouldn't matter.  But it does.

Over 50% of people who die in car accidents would have survived had they been wearing their seat belts.  No one really disputes that seat belts save lives.  And yet there remains a significant disconnect between what we know and what we do.  Seat belts aren't meant to protect us from the daily driving that doesn't end in an accident.  They are meant to protect us from that one unlucky second, when the stars align in just the right way, and we are in an accident.  I can't predict the future (sad, I know), and I'm assuming most of you can't either.  So why take the risk?  Why have the chance that you're family will be standing in an ED or ICU, saying "well if he'd just worn his seat belt, he'd be alive." 

There are a lot of things in this world that we can't prevent.  Bad stuff happens all around us that we have no control over.  Take control of the things you can control.  Put your seat belt on every time you get in the car.  Don't ignore that annoying beep that persists for just a bit if you forget to put it on.  Take it as the little voice of your child, or mother, or grandchild, saying, "don't you want to be here to see me tomorrow?"  And put on the dang seat belt. 

Drive safe,

PS.  Don't forget that you can adjust the height of the seat belt on the door so it doesn't slice you're neck :)  Makes it way more comfy...


Anonymous said...

About Me

I am a Family Medicine intern at a community hospital in Indiana, navigating the new world of being a physician. I am privileged to work in a field I love, where every day is a new and unpredictable challenge.
I am not only a doctor, but also a cyclist, runner, DIYer in the making, lover of the outdoors, traveler, and human.
Human, MD is a glimpse into the world of a young doctor who is just trying to stay true to herself through the grueling whirlwind of residency.


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