Tag Archives: seatbelts

Seatbelt Marks Indicate Trouble (Article)

Recognizing which children involved in an automobile accident have serious internal injuries can be a very difficult task for both physicians and parents. Some recent information, gathered by the Pediatric Academic Societies, seems to have made that recognition a little easier, however. These investigators have found that children with external marks from seatbelt injuries, also called the “seatbelt sign,” had a much higher probability of internal injures after a car accident. When young auto accident patients enter Emergency Departments (EDs), doctors are increasingly recognizing that bruising on the chest or abdomen from seatbelt trauma often means trouble, even if the child has little or no pain.

What is this “seatbelt sign?” Well, this physical sign is an elongated area of redness with possible bruising and tenderness on the skin caused by pressure from the seat belt during a collision. Although seen in adult accident patients as well, this bruising can be far more painful for small children and adolescents. Investigators surveyed 3,740 pediatric patients from multiple EDs after auto accidents. 16% had the seat-belt sign present while 84% did not. One in ten of the children with external seatbelt marks had serious internal injuries, especially intra-abdominal, regardless of whether they had pain.  Researchers concluded that external marks from a seat-belt are an important sign for parents and doctors to recognize after an auto accident.

This new data indicates that it is important for both physicians and parents to pay close attention to any bruises or areas of swelling on children involved in an auto accident, since these marks may indicate underlying serious injuries. This study also indicated that the seatbelt sign is not the only indication of abdominal injury; changes in a child’s breathing, low blood pressure, and abdominal tenderness were some of the other significant associated factors for detecting intra-abdominal injury. Dr. Angela Ellison, an emergency physician with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, reported that children with this seatbelt sign remain at high risk of injury, most notably gastrointestinal injury. Parents and doctors alike need to recognize and act on this important physical sign.

If you found this article interesting, take a moment to leave a comment at my blog, www.docsmo.com. While you are there, feel free to explore the hundreds of pedcasts and articles in the Doc Smo’s vault. Until next time.

Smo Notes:

1. http://www.pediatricnews.com/specialty-focus/injuries/single-article-page/seat-belt-sign-indicates-hidden-abdominal-injury-risk.html

Written collaboratively by norman Spencer and Paul Smolen M.D.

From the desk of Doc Smo: More on Injury Prevention (article)

Many of you are probably aware that I attended and graduated from Rutgers Medical School. When I was there, Rutgers was a very young start-up medical school attached to a prestigious old university named Rutgers. Since my graduation, the school received a major endowment from the Robert Wood Johnson foundation (RWJF) of Johnson and Johnson fame. Since then, they have changed the name from Rutgers to—you guessed it—the Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine. In addition to funding my alma mater, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supports a lot of health policy research. My interest in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation brings us to today’s memo.

 

I recently read about a new policy study that was supported by the RWJF, which took a close look at various state laws with respect to child and adult safety.  The report is called: “The Facts Hurt: A State-by-State Injury Prevention Policy Report.” After grading each state on the strength of their laws, the researchers overlaid this data on the actual accident rates each state has suffered in the recent past. Did they find that states with strong safety laws had lower accidental injury rates…? You bet they did. While the correlation is not perfect, I think you will see if you look at their data that states with strong safety laws tend to have less accidental injury. The strictest laws are found in California and New York, and they have the lowest rates of accidents. The weakest laws are found in Montana, Ohio, Idaho, Kentucky, North and South Dakota, and South Carolina. All these states scored in either the worst or next to worst accident rates.

 

The point is that accident prevention, either by parents or by state legislatures, does make a difference in protecting both children and adults from accidental injury. Enforcing seatbelt, helmet, drunk driving, sports safety, and dating violence laws do have a positive impact on our health. Yes, these laws do encroach on some personal freedoms, but in my opinion this is a small price to pay when we are talking about protecting our children, neighbors, and fellow citizens from serious harm.  Take a little time to copy and past the link below and browse the report.   I think you will be glad you did.

 

http://www.rwjf.org/files/research/74400.5885.thefactshurt.20120521.pdf