Home improvement injuries placing pressure on area hospitals

Posted at 6:23 PM, Apr 07, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville doctors have noticed a number of emergency room visits, from people working on do-it-yourself projects at home.

They worry it could cause a shortage in resources, right before we see a surge in local COVID-19 cases.

In a press conference Monday, Dr. Alex Jahangir of the Metro COVID-19 Task Force said he was still performing surgeries for injuries he feels could have been prevented.

“Most of my surgeries I performed yesterday were on people who were injured doing things that they should not have been involved with if they had followed the (governor’s) order,” said Jahangir.

While there hasn’t been a dramatic increase in home improvement injuries, doctors say these are far from a sprained wrist or twisted ankle.

People have been reportedly showing up to emergency departments, with traumatic injuries.

Most hospitals have postponed non-essential surgeries, if they don’t affect anyone’s life or limbs. Accidents are the exceptions.

“Rather than thinking it couldn’t happen to you, begin every project with the mantra, it could happen to you,” said Dr. Corey Slovis, Dept. Chair for Emergency Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Dr. Slovis has been fairly optimistic given that emergency room visits overall are down and have remained that way through the Safer at Home order.

That’s fewer resources spent, which could otherwise help if we see a surge in COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Slovis says consider the emergency department when you’re sick and can’t hold down fluids, or when you have a fever and can’t control it.

“But if you have a minor complaint, talk to your doctor by phone. Don’t come to the emergency departments here in Nashville,” said Slovis.

The more active you are, the more likely you are to get injured Slovis says.

Doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy time outdoors, just that you may have to ask yourself if this project can wait.


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What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.