Plastic Surgeons warn of bank holiday DIY dangers
The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) is urging the public to be careful when doing DIY this bank holiday in case they end the weekend minus a finger.
An audit of nine plastic surgery units across the UK over the May bank holiday weekend earlier this month showed that approximately 15% of all patients seen by plastic surgeons were being treated for DIY related injuries.
Despite the trend for more women taking up DIY, almost all of the patients were male (99%) and the most common injuries included:
• amputation of tips or whole fingers often from lawnmower accidents and circular saws
• tendons cut from tile cutters or “Stanley-type” knives
• bones fractured in the hand
• power tools, such as screwdrivers or drills penetrating holes into the palm or fingers
According to data collected by the NHS , tools are a major cause of accidents. In 2006/07, approximately 5,200 people were admitted to hospitals in England having suffered accidental injuries from knives, about 4,200 people were admitted because of injuries from non-powered hand tools, such as hammers and saws, 3,400 had injuries because of powered hand tools and household machinery, and around 450 people were injured from contact with powered lawnmowers.
Anyone doing DIY this weekend could if they are not careful, lose a finger and end up spending their bank holiday weekend in hospital warns the Association. It’s not a quick in and out either, patients with such injuries often needing to stay in hospital for a minimum of two to three days to recover.
The good news is that advances in plastic surgery mean in many cases surgeons can “replant” or reattach severed digits and repair the damaged tissues. Plastic surgeons use advanced microsurgery to find and reconnect nerves and blood vessels to reattach fingers, however, this is only possible if it is a clean cut. Where the finger is crushed or mangled it is almost impossible to reattach.
Hamish Laing, consultant plastic surgeon and member of BAPRAS, said:
“DIY injuries can be extremely disabling and plastic surgeons across Britain will once again find themselves working hard this weekend to save countless fingers and toes. Although plastic surgeons do a great job repairing the most horrendous of DIY disasters, we’d rather people took basic precautions like reading the instructions and not drinking alcohol until they’ve finished the job.”
Errol Taylor, Deputy Chief Executive of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “Following some simple DIY safety advice can prevent both minor injuries as well as those at the more severe end of the scale that require reconstructive surgery.
“Planning ahead is key because accidents often happen when you are rushing or doing many things at the same time. Only tackle a job if you really have the skills to complete it properly. Make sure that your tools are in good repair and remember to disconnect electrical items before checking them over. Work surfaces should be stable and use a clamp or a vice wherever possible. Remove jewellery, tie up loose hair and wear appropriate clothing and shoes. When buying or hiring tools, ask for advice about how to use the items safely and read and follow the instructions carefully.
“Keep children and pets away from where you are working and remember to store tools, paint and chemicals safely out of the reach of inquisitive young hands.”
About the audit
Data was collected on the number of patients with DIY related injuries seen by plastic surgeons over the bank holiday weekend (3 – 5 May 2008) at the following hospitals:
• Stoke Mandeville (Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust)
• Bradford Royal Infirmary (Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust)
• Vincent’s University Hospital (Dublin)
• Castle Hill Hospital (Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust)
• Whiston Hospital (St Helens & Knowsley NHS Trust)
• St George’s Hospital (St George’s Healthcare Trust)
• James Cook University Hospital (South Tees NHS Trust)
• Wrexham Park Hospital (Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust)
• Morriston Hospital (Swansea NHS Trust)
BAPRAS, the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, is the voice of plastic surgery in the UK. It aims to increase the understanding of the professional specialty and scope of plastic surgery, promoting innovation in teaching, learning and research.
Founded in 1946 (originally as the British Association of Plastic Surgeons), today BAPRAS has over 800 members and is the professional representative body for reconstructive and aesthetic plastic surgeons providing services to patients on the NHS and privately in the UK.
Members of the public can find a member plastic surgeon in their area by logging on to www.bapras.org.uk. Anyone can check the GMC to find out if a surgeon is on the plastic surgery specialist register.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is a registered charity, established more than 90 years ago. Its mission is to save lives and reduce injuries and it aims to campaign for change, influence opinion, contribute to debate, educate and inform - for the good of all.
By providing information, advice, resources and training, RoSPA is actively involved in the promotion of safety and the prevention of accidents in all areas of life - at work, in the home, on the roads, in schools, at leisure and on (or near) water.
DIY safety advice is available on the RoSPA website.