Injury-control measures need not be implemented on a grand scale to make a difference. Emergency physicians can incorporate injury prevention into their clinical practice.17 The impact of these bedside interventions can be substantial.
Special efforts should be made to correct factors that precipitated the injury or contributed to its severity. Otherwise, a patient is likely to return with a more serious injury in the future. A child sustaining a minor head injury while bike riding should be told to wear his bicycle helmet. The unbelted adult who sustained minor injuries in a low-velocity motor vehicle crash deserves a short lecture on the importance of safety belts.
However, any ED encounter is a "teachable moment."18 Because emergency physicians are more likely to provide acute care to injured patients than any other physician group, they should have a special stake in preventing and controlling injuries. The mother who brings her child to the ED for evaluation of a severe otitis can leave the department with information about the importance of child safety seats, bicycle helmets, and four-sided fencing around her swimming pool. Emergency physicians have the opportunity to motivate patients to change high-risk behaviors and modify their home environment to decrease injury risk. Unfortunately, the ability to influence behavior from these brief emergency setting encounters have not been well studied.
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