Bones: Immediate Care
Guest: Dr. Langdon Hartsock
– Orthopaedic Surgery
Host: Dr. Linda Austin –
Dr. Linda Austin: I’m Dr.
Linda Austin. I’m interviewing Dr.
Langdon Hartsock who is Associate Professor and Chairman of the Department of
Orthopedics. Dr. Hartsock, you’re an
expert in the orthopedic treatment of trauma.
I’d like to talk about what people should do as kind of first line
at-home management when there has been a broken bone, a broken arm, a broken
leg, before they can get to the emergency room.
What guidelines would you suggest?
Dr. Langdon Hartsock:
Linda, I think the main thing, of course, is we want to prevent
fractures. There’s actually been a lot
of interesting research on that. I think
for your older listeners, there are some very practical things you can do at
home to try to prevent injuries. Make
sure that you’re electrical cords are not on the floor where you might trip
over them or any kind of throw rugs or slippery surfaces, make sure that those
are taken care of because the biggest source of injuries at home are
falls. So, anything that’s cluttered up
on the floor or slippery floors, people need to take care to deal with those so
they don’t risk a fall.
Now, if you fall at home and you’re injured or you think you’ve
been significantly injured and something’s broken, you know, the first thing
you need to do is get help. That can be
someone in your home or a neighbor, or you can call 911 and get some help. For the folks who are around and can help the
injured person, the main thing we want them to do is treat that arm or leg very
gently and gently position the person so that they’re basically lying flat on
the floor or on a bed, or on a couch, wherever they can be safely moved to and
they’re out of any kind of harm or danger. And, in terms of the arm or leg, just try to
carefully position that arm or leg so it looks as comfortable as you can
imagine it could be. That can just be
some simple pillows or some sheets or towels, something to protect and pad that
injured arm or leg until help can arrive.
Dr. Linda Austin: Would you
recommend calling an ambulance or just going in by car? I suppose it would depend on the nature of
Dr. Landon Hartsock: I
think it depends a little bit. For older
people, you worry that they may have broken a hip, you’re going to need an
ambulance. So, I think a call to 911 and
just saying what happened, you know, somebody has fallen down and their hip
hurts and they can’t move and you think you need an ambulance. That’s a very reasonable thing to do. I think if you’ve fallen down and injured
your hand or your finger, or your arm, you probably don’t need an ambulance for
that, but you probably shouldn’t try to drive yourself to the doctor or to the
hospital. You need to get a family member
or a friend to take you to the doctor or to the hospital and have it checked
Dr. Linda Austin: We hear,
sometimes, of situations where folks do not get to the hospital quickly
enough. Why is it important to have a
broken bone seen by a doctor pretty quickly?
Dr. Langdon Hartsock:
That’s a great question.
Unfortunately, we do see some very tragic situations sometimes where
people have, for whatever reason, not come to the doctor right away. The reason it’s important to come and get it
checked out quickly is there is the potential for very serious consequences
from a broken bone. One is that if the
bones are crooked, the circulation to the arm or leg can be damaged or shut
down in some way, so all those nerves and muscles, and everything else, aren’t
getting any blood flow. And that can
have, unfortunately, very serious consequences.
Sometimes nerves can be damaged.
Sometimes, if there are any open wounds, infection can set it, which is
also very serious. So, if you’re
concerned you’ve had a serious injury, a fracture, then, really, it is
important to come on in to, usually, the emergency room or call your doctor and
ask him where you should go and have that seen right away.
Dr. Linda Austin: Thank you
so much for talking with us today.
Dr. Langdon Hartsock:
Great. Thank you.
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