Ways to avoid the emergency department

Published 9:07 pm Friday, July 8, 2016

At Vidant Beaufort Hospital we treat injuries every day. These injuries can be minimal, such as a sprained ankle, to more serious injuries, such as multiple trauma from a motor vehicle crash. Patients with multiple trauma are typically transferred to Vidant Medical Center, since it is a level one trauma center.

Unintentional injury is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. It is the leading cause of death for people ages 1–44. There were 136,053 deaths from unintentional injuries in the United States during 2014. Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries treated in emergency departments in the United States.

Falls are very common in older adults. There are ways to prevent falls:

  • Have a discussion about falls with your healthcare provider. This discussion may include talking about high fall risk medications, diseases that predispose you to falls and ways to stay independent longer.
  • Exercising regularly can reduce your risk of falling. Tai chi and yoga exercises are especially good for reducing the risk of falling and strengthening the leg muscles.
  • Have your eyes examined yearly and keep up-to-date prescription glasses. Single vision glasses may be better for outdoor activities like hiking.
  • Reduce the risks and make your home safer. Get rid of all trip hazards. Add grab bars in your showers, bathtubs and near your toilet. Make sure that you have railings on both sides of your stairs and that they are sturdy. Purchase high-output light bulbs to provide plenty of light.


Drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury deaths. It is even more of a risk in children ages 1–14. Here some prevention tips for children:

  • Gain knowledge if you are going to be around the water. Know how to swim and take CPR.
  • Fence off your pool and secure it to prevent children from using the pool when they are not supposed to.
  • Children and adults who do not know how to swim should wear life jackets anytime they are around any body of water. This includes the ocean, rivers and lakes.
  • Always keep a close eye on children when they are swimming or near the water.


Six teens age 16–19 die every day from motor vehicle injuries. Here are some tips on preventing motor vehicle crashes for teens:

  • Obtain extensive, supervised driving practice. Practice driving in all different conditions. Always scan for hazards.
  • Limit the number of teenage passengers to one or none (follow your local laws).
  • Avoid nighttime driving.
  • Always wear seatbelts.
  • Avoid the use of mobile phones and other devices, including the radio while driving.
  • Don’t drive while sleepy.
  • Always follow the speed limit and leave adequate distance between other vehicles.
  • Never, ever drive while impaired.


Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury. They are caused by a blow, which causes the brain to quickly bounce around or twist in the skull. This causes chemical changes and damage to the brain cells. Concussions are commonly seen during sports. Signs and symptoms of a concussion are: dazed or stunned, amnesia, slow to answer questions, loss of consciousness, headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, and confusion. If these signs and symptoms are present, you should inform the coach and seek a medical evaluation.

During the summer months there is an increased rate of injuries coming to the emergency department. Hopefully the information presented will decrease you and your family’s risk of having to make a visit to the emergency department.

Nat Gladding, RN, BSN, is the emergency department manager at Vidant Beaufort Hospital.