To assess outcomes of trauma caused by television sets falling onto children.
Retrospective review of medical charts of 183 children aged 7 years and younger hospitalized for injuries caused by falling television sets. Descriptive statistics were applied.
Phase 2 (1988-1995) and phase 3 (1995-1999) of the National Pediatric Trauma Registry.
Demographics, injured body region, injury severity measured by the Injury Severity Score, length of hospital stay, admission to the intensive care unit, surgical intervention, in-hospital death rate, disability resulting from the injury, and disposition at discharge from the hospital.
The sample population represented 0.5% of all National Pediatric Trauma Registry admissions in this age group. More than half (57.4%) of the children were boys, and more than three quarters (76.0%) were 1 to 4 years of age. In most cases (95.1%), the injury occurred at home. Most children (68.3%) sustained head injury, and 43.7% sustained injuries to multiple body regions. More than a quarter (28.4%) of the children had injuries of moderate to critical severity (Injury Severity Score, 10-75), about a third (31.1%) required admission to the intensive care unit, and 20.2% needed 1 or more surgical interventions. The average length of hospitalization was 3.3 days. Five children (2.7%) died, and 48 (26.2%) developed functional limitations, which required discharge to a rehabilitation facility in 5 cases. Most (94.0%) of the children returned to their home. The proportion of television set–related injuries increased more than 100% during the study period.
The injuries reported are not trivial. Not only did they require hospitalization, but they also resulted in an in-hospital death rate comparable to the 2.5% rate observed in children of the same age group injured by unintentional blunt trauma, inclusive of motor vehicle traffic–related injuries. Since virtually all American children are at risk for such injury, we suggest that television set designs be modified to reduce the incidence and severity of the problem.