Is it possible to ever be prepared for the unexpected? Do you ever think about the impact of accidents and injuries on your ability to practise dentistry in the future?
Accidents and injuries at home, undertaking a sporting activity or even out on walk, could all affect your ability to work and care for your patients. With 2020 seeing us going through a worldwide pandemic with social distancing becoming the norm, spending more time at home may have seen a reduction in road traffic accidents, but our homes are actually the location of most of our accidents.
As a dental professional, and as you get older, you may be even more cautious than your contemporaries about undertaking potentially dangerous leisure and sporting activities, such as mountain biking, skiing and horse riding. You may have also decided not to participate at a more competitive level because of the risk of an injury, and the impact that could have on your everyday working life and potentially your time away from practice, where you could lose confidence or your ability to move in the same way because of your injury.
You can be knowledgeable, experienced and be more prepared for certain types of injuries like sporting ones, but have you ever thought about how even the most basic of household chores or everyday activities could also have an impact on your ability to practice?
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), a UK charity that have been promoting accident prevention for over 100 years, indicates that more than 14,000 people die due to an accident every year in the UK.1 And while that is obviously the most severe outcome from an accident, there are still millions of people every day that experience an unexpected incident.
Every year in the UK more than 6,000 people die in accidents in their homes and 2.7 million turn up at accident and emergency departments for help. More accidents happen at home than anywhere else, and the living room seems to be the most dangerous. Falls are also the most common type of accidents.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) put together annual statistics (last published in October 2019) on the kinds of accidents experienced in Great Britain covering injuries and fatalities of people in the workplace. It will be interesting to see if they focus on injuries in the home in 2020’s statistics as so many people have been isolating at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Injuries that dentists experienced in 2019 include walking and running injuries that we paid out nearly £14,000 for, over £95,000 for general injuries to the legs and feet, over £90,000 for falls, with the majority of those on steps or stairs, as well as over £180,000 for injuries to hands, arms and shoulders, and over £18,000 for other injuries caused from exercise and activities including dog walking, gardening and chores at home.
By their very nature accidents are unexpected, but there are things you can do to minimise their chance of occurring and certainly if they do occur, minimise their impact on your lifestyle and work, both financially and personally.
The RoSPA provide information sheets to raise awareness of the most common accidents and what you can do to prevent them, such as in your home with leaflets on fire safety, electrical safety, heating and cooking, safety glass, safety with medicines and cleaners, DIY and garden safety. This may sound obvious, but these are the most common types of accidents for all of us. They also have seasonal preventive tips relating specifically to accidents common to every season, such as using power tools and lighting BBQs in the summer.
And if an accident does happen, the UK website ‘First Aid for Life’ suggests that good quality first aid training plays a crucial role in empowering us all in dealing with injuries, as it gives us not only the skills, but the confidence if an accident does happen. They state that ‘Keeping calm, understanding how to recognise and prioritise life threatening injuries and knowing what to do in the first critical seconds can make the difference between life and death.’ So it is important to keep your training up to date.
As a dental professional you may be more conscious than other professionals of the impact of accidents and injuries but with a little knowledge and being prepared it could make all the difference.
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