There are approximately 6,400 lawn mower injuries reported annually, most of which require surgery and hospitalization, according to a new study recently published in the journal Public Health Reporters authored by scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
To determine the rate of lawnmower injuries and costs, the researchers examined data from the mega database, the United States Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, and studied 25 to 30 million emergency room visits — 20 percent of the annual number.
In addition to visit data, the researchers collected information on patient ages, geography, gender, day of week of incident and more.
After studying the millions of cases, they identified 14,878 lawnmower related injuries between 2006 and 2013, representing approximately 6,394 cases per year on average when adjusted to reflect national ER visit data. The injuries cost the average patient about $37,000.
Most injuries were lacerations, fractures and amputations and involved the wrist, hand, foot or toe. Approximately 85 percent of the adjusted number of 51,151 cases were in men, nearly 40 percent occurred in the South, 66 percent happened on a weekday and more than 81 percent occurred between April and September, the researchers found.
“Despite consumer education programs and warning labels, lawnmower injuries in the United States remain a serious public health concern,” study author Deborah Schwengel said in a statement. “Understanding what types of injuries occur in certain groups should help engineers design safer lawnmowers and policymakers create more appropriate prevention policies.”
Last year, a separate study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that lawn mowers send nearly 13 children to the hospital every day.
Thirty-nine percent of the injuries researched involved cuts and 15 percent, burns. The hand/finger area was the most commonly injured body region, followed by the legs, feet and toes.
Records showed more than 8 percent of the children had injures serious enough to be admitted. Those who were either bystanders or passengers were nearly four times as likely than lawn mower operators to be admitted.
While lawn mower-related injuries have declined over the years, the number is still substantial, researchers said. Approximately 212,258 children received relevant emergency treatment from 1990 through 2014.
“Improvements in lawn mower design during the last few decades are likely an important contributing factor in the decrease in injuries,” Gary Smith, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, said in a statement. “We would like to see manufacturers continue to improve design and include additional needed safety features on all mowers.”
Some safety measures, Schwengel and her colleagues noted, may involve lawnmower designs that can detect human flesh and auto-activate stopping features.