Be careful in the bathroom

An eye-opening report from the CDC shows an alarming number of injuries occurring in the bathroom.

It makes sense, of course: The bathroom presents a perfect array of hazards, from porcelain fixtures to wet, slippery floors. Plus, many times when we are in the bathroom we are not our best, most cognizant selves.

Still, the numbers are surprising: In 2008, the report found, an estimated 234,094 nonfatal bathroom injuries among people ages 15 and older were treated in U.S. emergency rooms. Most injuries involved falling. The rate at which women were injured was 72 percent higher than the injury rate for men.

As might be expected, injury rates rose with age, though the location in the bathroom where they took place varied by age group. For instance, the rates of injuries occurring on or near the toilet were far more common among people age 85 and older than among those ages 15 to 24. On the other hand, the proportion of injuries in or around the tub or shower was highest among those ages 15 to 24 and lowest among those 85 and up. But the relative proportion of injuries occurring around or on the toilet was lowest among the 15-to-24-year-olds and highest among the 85+ set.

The report suggests that some of these injuries might be avoided with the installation of grab bars in shower and tub stalls and near toilets and with the addition of non-slip pads on floors and in bathtubs. But that’s not been studied, so it’s not clear how helpful those modifications might really be across the population.

I cringed when I read this report, remembering the awful time I allowed my little girl, who was probably 8 at the time, to use the one-person bathroom at a pizza restaurant by herself. (It was a small restaurant and one we frequented often, and I was seated close by, so there was no threat of her being harmed by strangers or anything.) While washing her hands at the sink, the poor thing had slipped on a patch of wet floor and landed smack on her noggin. The goose-egg she got required no medical attention (after the doc determined she hadn’t had a concussion), but we’ve both tread more carefully in bathrooms ever since.

Have you or a loved one had a close call with a bathroom fall? (And, please, spare me your drinking-days stories.)

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