Car Safety

Publication Date: 
Tue, 11/08/2011
By: Alere Staff

Patients on warfarin lead otherwise normal lives, compared to the rest of the population. However, certain situations pose a greater risk for patients on warfarin than those who are not. This column is outlines special circumstances that could increase the risk of bleeding for those on oral anticoagulation.

Patients on warfarin, even those in the target range, risk a variety of injuries from car doors.

Whether you drive or you are the passenger, to get from A to B, you’ll need to get into and out of a car. Car designers have done a good job outlining the entrance into the car with half-inch protective foam to prevent occupants from hitting their heads or bumping their arms or legs against the vehicle’s steel frame.

The car door is the most dangerous, unprotected portion of the car. Weighing more than 30 pounds and made of steel and glass, the door is virtually an exposed piece of steel that comes to a point right where passengers enter and exit. Serious bruising and hemorrhaging has occurred when the door accidentally hits patients on the arm, shoulder or head. Car doors are on spring hinges that make them easy to close, making the situation even worse.

When parked on a hill, an already heavy car door can close unexpectedly, swinging toward the passenger with significant force and injuring an individual’s shoulder, head, torso, arms or shins. Soft tissue injuries of the arm and torso can result in frequent internal bleeding, swelling and pain. Head injuries resulting from car door impacts often cause abundant external bleeding. All of these are medical emergencies.

To prevent serious internal bleeding and severe bruising while entering and exiting a car, patients should place a hand on the open door to prevent it from swinging closed. They need to be aware of the potential danger the point of the car door poses.

Patients have fallen, however, when they rely too much on using the car door to steady themselves. The door is not a walker or sturdy support. since its hinge is designed to open and close easily. Patients who are somewhat unsteady or require help getting into and out of a car are most at risk for injury. In addition, the bottom frame of the door poses an equally dangerous hazard to the occupant’s shins.

You should report any injuries caused by a car door, whether they appear serious or not. Bruising does not always appear immediately, or in some cases at all.