Notes from an emergency room doctor: I hate cigarette
smoking. It has always appeared to me to be a
disgusting habit, and is now a well-known unhealthful
one. I hate second hand smoke too. I always make
a point of sitting in no smoking sections of restaurants,
and I use my walking dollar to express displeasure
with those places that would require me to tolerate
a smoky environment. I hate seeing people riding
motorcycles without helmets. From my vantage point
in an emergency room, I've seen what damage a
biker's head sustains in an accident without a
helmet or with an ineffective one.
It seems that our lawmakers - local, state,
and federal - hate a lot of the same things that
I do. And in their "infinite wisdom,"
they are hellbent on controlling everyone's self-destructive
personal behavior. To help them out, I am proposing
a new set of laws to safeguard public health and
safety. I call them the FALLING DOWN LAWS.
You might be interested in knowing that the
most common injuries requiring a visit to an emergency
room are due to falls. A recent study showed that
one-third of all hospital admissions for trauma
resulted from falls.
In just one day at work recently, I saw the
gamut of injuries. Toddlers with chin, forehead,
and lip lacerations from running or walking falls;
a teen with a concussion due to a soccer fall;
the working man with a dislocated shoulder from
a fall at work; a young mother who fell on the
wet floor at the supermarket injuring her back;
a middle aged woman who gouged her leg after falling
over a sprinkler head; the unfortunate senior
with a hip fracture after a fall out of bed; and
the senile old man with Parkinson's who fell from
his wheelchair and fractured several ribs.
An interesting survey in Washington state documented
the types of falls that led to hospitalization.
Falling from one level to another accounted for
38%, a same level slip 16%, ladders 13%, steps
4%, out of buildings 4%, holes 1%, and collisions
with another person 2%.
This information is all our legislators should
need to know in enacting the new "falling
I propose that these laws require the use of
a "walker" for anyone old enough to
walk or run. This walker would be required to
be used on streets, parks, in malls, anywhere
except in the privacy of one's home. Special harnesses
would also be required for anyone walking down
steps. And needless to say, helmets would be required
for anyone who dared climb a ladder, get on the
monkey bars, or fix a roof.
I am convinced these new laws will save billions
in healthcare costs and protect more of us from
injury than the current smoking laws, the helmet
laws, or the laws that criminalize drugs.
Now our lawmakers can enact these new "falling
down laws" or they can expect us to stand
on our own two feet. They can expect us to be
responsible for our individual and private behaviors.
But why should they do that? It'd put a lot of
them out of a job.
Soon I may discuss the medical horrors of alcohol
abuse. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they brought